Wild Turkey

(Meleagris gallopavo)

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Meleagris gallopavo
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Scientific Information

Other Names:

Subspecies: Mexican Wild Turkey (M. g. gallopavo) - Occurs in southern Mexico, ancestor of domesticated turkeys; distinguished by white tail-tips. Gould's Wild Turkey (M. g. mexicana) - Northwest Mexico to southern Arizona & New Mexico; the largest race, also with white tail-tips. Eastern Wild Turkey (M. g. silvestris) - Most numerous race, found throughout the eastern and central US and southern Canada, has been introduced into areas of the western US as well; distinguished by buff tail-tips. Florida Wild Turkey (M. g. osceola), sometimes known as the Osceola Turkey, is the smallest race and resembles silvestris, but somewhat darker; occurs in Florida. Rio Grande Wild Turkey (M. g. intermedia) - Found naturally in Kansas south through Texas to northwest Mexico, introduced to Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and California; tail-tips light buff. Merriam's Wild Turkey (M. g. merriami) - Occurs in the Rocky Mountain states of Colorado and New Mexico, introduced into parts of Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon & Washington; tail-tips very light buff, lower back with more white feathers than other races.

Range: United States and Mexico, introduced to Canada, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia and parts of Europe.

Habitat: Varied, depending on race. Primarily open woodlands.

Status in Wild: The Wild Turkey is one of America's great conservation success stories. Hunted to near extinction in the early years of the 20th Century, restocking and conservation efforts have helped the turkey to reach near abundant status in some locations. The subspecies in Mexico, however, are rare and exact status is not clear.

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Photo Credits
(l to r): 1-2, Vonnon Cowell; 3, Dan Cowell.


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