Rock Hill, South Carolina

Bird 0f the Month: Turkey

While many of you in the Rock Hill have never seen a wild turkey, some of you in more rural surrounding areas have mentioned you have seen them.  So in honor of Thanksgiving, let's celebrate the turkey.  Here are some interesting facts:

  • The wild Turkey was Benjamin Franklin's first choice for our national bird; the Bald Eagle was selected by one vote.
  • By the early 20th centruy, turkeys, which had roamed freely over much of the United States, were nearly wiped out; through relocation efforts, they have been reintroduced to many areas and are flourishing.
  • Turkeys forage on the forest floor for nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, and salamanders.
  • Domestic turkeys have a white tip on their tails, while the tip on wild turkeys is chestnut brown.
  • Females lay 4-17 eggs in nests on the ground, about one per day over two weeks, and cover them with leaves; they incubate the eggs so they hatch together after about 28 days; the chicks are walking and start hunting for food within 12 - 24 hours.flourishing
  • Turkeys tend to forage in groups most of the year. However, when females get ready to nest, they select and protect an area of about 1/2 mile.  After eggs are hatched and chicks are foraging well, several females will join together with their chicks for mutual protection. During the winter groups of turkeys can be as large as 200.
  • Males have two distinctive features: spurs and beards. Spurs start growing on the back of the leg shortly after hatching and can grow to be two inches long on males; beards are tufts of modified feather that grow up to nine inches long on the chest.
  • Turkeys can run up to 25 miles per hours and they fly up to 55 mph. When necessary, they can even swim.
  • Young turkeys and adults often roost in trees for the night--this helps protect them as their nighttime eyesight is not nearly as acute as their daytime sight.

Female turkeys herding their chicks