Wild Turkey

After the bald eagle became the official symbol in America in 1782, Benjamin Franklin disagreed. In a letter to his daughter, Franklin wrote that he believed the turkey would have been a better choice because of its bravery. Turkey feathers or plumage are generally dark with brilliant metallic reflections of bronze and green, but the head and neck are bare. A turkey can fly 32-42 miles per hour. This bird will forage on the ground. That gobbling the turkey is famous for is part of an elaborate courtship display that includes spreading tail fans and strutting.

Wild Turkey

Meleagris gallopavo

Habitat: Woodlands, or mixed open forests in the Eastern United States to Mexico.

Diet in the wild: Seeds, nuts (esp. acorns), grains, fruits, insects and small vertebrates

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Grains and they graze on exhibit

Size: Weigh 9-16 pounds; 36-48 inches long/tall

Family: Babies follow the hen; can fly short distances at 2 weeks of age.

Status: Least Concern

Did you know? At night, turkeys will fly up into trees and roost in group.

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