Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) represent an iconic North American bird species. The typical domestic variety on farms originated from wild turkeys. Six subspecies of wild turkeys exist, with at least one subspecies in every state of the United States except for Alaska. Mexico boasts the ocellated turkey. Turkey males are called toms or gobblers, and females are called hens. Mature males and females are easily distinguished from each other.
Turkeys roost safely in trees or dense vegetation at night, preferring woodlands, grasslands, savannas and even swamps. Adult toms boast featherless red, blue or white skin on their heads; the color changes as males grow excited.
Males have very dark bodies, but upon close inspection numerous iridescent colors such as bronze, gold, copper, green, blue and red can be found. Many will not reach maturity due to weather or predation from such animals as weasels, coyotes, mink, raccoons, skunks and snakes.
Why is a male turkey called a tom?
It’s an urban myth that Ben Franklin named turkey’s “toms” after Thomas Jefferson. The truth is the name “tom” stems from “tomcat,” a term used to describe a wild man that often enjoys the company of multiple females, much like the wild turkey.
Is a boy turkey called a tom?
A mature male turkey is called a “tom” or “gobbler,” a mature female is called a “hen,” a yearling male is a “Jake,” a yearling female is a “Jenny,” and a baby is called a “poult.” In the farm trade, a turkey under 16 weeks is a “fryer” and those 5-7 months old are called “roasters.” A group of turkeys is referred to …
Is there a female turkey?
A female turkey is called a hen and the male turkey is called a gobbler and for a good reason. Only male turkeys make that adorable gobbling sound; hens cluck and make small, chirp-like noises. Each male turkeys use his unique gobbling and strutting skills to attract the ladies.
Is a jake a turkey?
What is a jake? A jake is an immature male bird. … A gobbler or tom turkey is a mature male bird. There will be shifts in physical appearance and behavior as they get older, but a gobbler is essentially a gobbler on its 2 year birthday.
|Turkeys are large birds related to pheasants. They lived almost 10 million years ago. Wild turkeys are native to wooded areas of North America. Turkeys are the only breed of poultry native to the Western Hemisphere. They were first domesticated in Mexico and brought to Europe in the 16th century.|
Wild turkeys often spend their nights in trees on low branches, preferable over water to help protect them from tree-climbing predators. Male turkeys will start making their gobbling sound before sunrise and continue through most of the morning.
Raccoons will catch and kill young turkeys and also attack a hen’s nest and destroy the eggs. In the spring, male turkeys puff up their bodies, spread their tail feathers, grunt and make their gobbling sound to attract as many females as possible.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)
Turkey are large birds of North American origin. Males, called toms or gobblers, are much larger than females. Males boast dark iridescent plumage; large, fanning tails; prominent snoods; and wattles. They make gobbles and other mating calls. Females, or hens, are smaller, with duller plumage and less prominent features.
Common Features of Turkeys
Turkeys belong to the same family as partridges, pheasants and peafowl. They appear large and squat, with 5,000 to 6,000 feathers on their bodies. Turkeys can reach nearly 3 feet tall. They posses a red flap of skin under their chins called a wattle, and they have bumps called caruncles on their heads and throats. A snood dangles from their beaks. Spurs can be found on the backs of their lower legs. The omnivorous wild turkeys eat roots, tubers, acorns, nuts, berries, flowers, amphibians, insects and even reptiles. Turkeys possess excellent sight but poor senses of smell and taste. Wild turkeys, unlike their domesticated cousins, fly well, from 40 to 55 miles per hour. They also swim and can run as fast as 25 miles per hour. Turkeys roost safely in trees or dense vegetation at night, preferring woodlands, grasslands, savannas and even swamps. They roam according to weather conditions and gather in large flocks in winter. A pecking order or hierarchy exists among flocks.
Wild female turkeys, or hens, weigh from 5 to 12 pounds and range from 30 to 37 inches long. Hens bear less colorful feathers than males, with rusty brown, white or gray-tipped breast feathers. Their heads are either white or blue-gray, with small feathers on both head and neck. Their wattles, snoods, caruncles and spurs are small. Hens make vocalizations such as yelps, clucks and cuts. Approximately 10 percent of hens possess a “beard,” or elongated chest feathers. Hens do not strut or fan their tails. Females can lay from nine to 13 eggs, which they incubate for around 28 days. Well-nourished females in good physical condition nest earlier than females in poor condition. The feces of females can be distinguished from males as it is shaped like the letter “J.”
Male Turkeys: Toms or Gobblers
Male turkeys are called toms or gobblers. They weigh from 18 to as much as 25 pounds and are almost 3 feet tall, making them significantly larger than females. Adult toms boast featherless red, blue or white skin on their heads; the color changes as males grow excited. Toms possess a long “beard” on their chests, with long, hair-like feathers that stick out. Males have very dark bodies, but upon close inspection numerous iridescent colors such as bronze, gold, copper, green, blue and red can be found. Their spurs are much larger than on females, ranging up to 1.5 inches long. These are used for fighting other toms and predators. The toms’ prominent snoods expand or contract at will and hang over their beaks. Toms are polygamous. They can be dominant or subordinate depending on their gene expression. Dominant males possess exaggerated masculine traits at sexual maturity. Subordinate males can assist their dominant brothers in mating, but only dominant males will sire poults (babies). Toms strut and fan out their tail feathers as part of their display. As their alternate name suggests, males make gobble sounds, along with approximately 30 other calls. Males’ feces can be distinguished from females’ due to its spiral shape.