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Turkey Clip Art
Types of Birds
The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is a native grassland and forest species, known to most people as the official Thanksgiving bird.
If Benjamin Franklin had his way, the Wild Turkey would also have been named the official bird of the United States.
When the first colonists arrived, they were such a popular game bird that they were almost hunted to extinction. Today, they have been introduced into much of their entire range, primarily the eastern United States, with smaller western populations.
Their habitat consists of open forest areas with access to nearby grass.
While they spend most of their time walking on the ground in search of their favorite foods, local fruits, seeds, spiders, insects, snails and plant life, they are capable flyers.
They roost in tall trees to avoid predators such as raccoons, skunks and foxes, which like to raid their nests for eggs.
Males, like the one in the top picture, display their feathers much like the male peacock.
Five native subspecies are currently recognized:
- Meleagris gallopavo ssp. silvestris Vieillot (eastern wild turkey)
- Meleagris gallopavo ssp. osceola Scott (Florida wild turkey)
- Meleagris gallopavo ssp. mexicana (Gould's wild turkey)
- Meleagris gallopavo ssp. merriami Nelson (Merriam's wild turkey)
- Meleagris gallopavo ssp. intermedia Sennett (Rio Grande turkey)
In addition to wild populations, the Census bureau reports that Minnesota led the country in domestic turkey production in 2009, raising an estimated 45.5 million birds.
North Carolina (37.5 million), Arkansas (28 million), Missouri (21 million), Virginia (16.4 million) and California (15 million) rounded out the top of the list, accounting for about two-thirds of U.S. domestic turkey production.
Depending on location, a group of turkeys is called different names such as rafter, crop, dole, gang and flock. A male turkey is called a Tom and a female turkey is called a hen.
© 2009-2010 Patricia A. Michaels