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The Wild Turkey Makes a Comeback!

Wild Turkey Tom                                       ©jimzipp.com
I usually do articles about songbirds that visit feeders but Jim said why not do one on the Wild Turkey and I agreed it sounded like a great idea. The first place I decided to look for information about turkeys was a set of encyclopedias from1960. It stated "the Wild Turkey is still found in the wild state in thickly wooded mountainous portions of its range in N. Mexico and Eastern US". Obviously things have changed over the past 40 years! Turkeys were actually extirpated from Connecticut in the early 1800's. Attempts to restore them in the 1950's and 60's by artificial propagation were unsuccessful. From 1975 to 1992 large numbers of wild turkeys from other states were released at various sites within the state. They can now be found in every town in the state and are increasing in numbers as less and less land is used for agriculture and more converts to forest. Hunting has been allowed since 1981. Turkeys have few predators, although free roaming domestic dogs are their biggest enemy, mostly when the birds are young and still small. Turkeys are now found in a much wider range across the country except in the far north and west.  According to The Sibley Guide to Birds, "birds of mixed ancestry (domestic and wild) have been widely introduced and the species is now found farther north and much farther west than ever before". The Wild Turkey is a very large bird with an average weight of 16 pounds. Males are 46" tall with a wingspan of 64", females are smaller at 37" and a wingspan of 50" and weigh 9 pounds on average. They will eat bird seed as many of you are aware but their favorite food is acorns. They prefer foraging on the edge of woods in small clearings. One of our favorite things to watch them do is take a dust bath. If you have turkeys that come to your yard and would like to create a dust bath all you have to do is pick a spot in a sunny area, dig a round hole about 3 inches deep and 24 inches across. They like it really dusty so the dryer it is the better. You want it big enough so that the whole bird can fit in the hole, then the lay down and flap their feathers so dust flies up and comes back down right on top of them. It's a hoot to watch!

 

 

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