The wild turkey is a large game bird endemic to North America that prefers woodland and rural habitats. This bird's preferred forest habitat will have a relatively open understory without excessive ground foliage to make foraging easier, and they are often found in forest edges or fractured forests that border grasslands, swamps or agricultural areas. Deciduous or mixed deciduous and coniferous forests are preferred, and large numbers of nut-bearing trees are essential to provide plentiful food. Wild turkeys are often found in semi-moist mixed forests of ponderosa pine, oak, beech, pecan, ash and cherry trees, and berry-producing shrubs such as huckleberry and blueberry are also essential food sources.
These large birds forage on the ground, making open habitat essential, but they do roost in mature trees. They are most frequently found in flocks, and they are often more likely to run along the ground before flushing. When they do fly, they typically stay low above the grass and have very rapid, noisy wing beats.
Wild turkeys stay in the same range throughout the year, but can be nomadic as food sources change seasonally. They are more common in the eastern part of their range, with populations more scarce and smaller in the west. Occasionally, city populations of wild turkeys can become established where birds may have been accidentally released, but as the flocks grow, they can often be considered a nuisance.
For more information, see the complete wild turkey profile.
North America outline map © WorldAtlas.com.