Turkey family (Phasianidae)
Large, 34” tall. Body is dark brown; head and neck are bare. Male (shown in image) – larger and more iridescent than female; tuft of hairlike feathers (“beard”) on breast.
Forest, forest edges
Nest is placed in a slight depression on the ground, usually at the base of a tree or under a shrub. Eggs are large, whitish buff with brown marks. The eggs look similar to Turkey Vulture eggs but Wild Turkeys usually lay a dozen eggs whereas Turkey Vultures usually lay only two eggs. Wild Turkeys begin nesting early, usually in April. Young are precocial, leave nest soon after hatching, begin flying at 2 weeks of age.
“Gobble gobble gobble” given by males during breeding season.
Meleagris, Latin for “Guinea fowl” from their vague resemblance to African guinea fowl; gallopavo: gallus Latin for “cock”, pavo, Latin for “peafowl”.
In the Nature Park:
Year-round resident. Wild Turkeys are common in the deep woods of the Nature Park. Their gobbling is readily heard early in the morning during their breeding season in March and April.
The Wild Turkey was common throughout the forests of Indiana prior to European settlement, but disappeared by the 1920s due to overexploitation and habitat loss. Wild Turkeys have now been re-established throughout the state of Indiana via reintroductions.