Notes From the Wildlife Rescue Center: THANKFUL FOR TURKEY!

By Pam Bolton,

Executive Director Wildlife Rescue Center


The wild turkey, a native bird of North America, is not the same as the domestic bird that people customarily serve for a Thanksgiving feast.  During the day, wild turkeys forage for acorns, wild berries, fruits and insects in open woodlands or forests.  At night, they roost in low branches of trees.  Yes, wild turkeys can fly.  They are alert and built for speed and survival.  They usually fly close to the ground for distances up to a quarter mile.  They can run at speeds of 25 mph and can fly up to 55 mph.

Domestic turkeys are descendants of wild turkeys and weigh twice as much as the wild variety.  Due to their body mass, they are typically unable to fly or even run fast.  Their breasts are much larger and broader.

There are 5 subspecies of wild turkeys in North America that range throughout different parts of the continent.  The Eastern Turkey, the most common subspecies, claims Missouri as its home and it spans through the entire Eastern half of the United States.  The Eastern turkey was the turkey species first encountered in the wild by the Puritans, the founders of Jamestown.  Did you know that Benjamin Franklin wanted to recognize the wild turkey, not the bald eagle, as the national bird of the U.S?

In the early 1900’s, the wild turkey was nearly extinct due to over-hunting and clearing of trees for farmland and communities.  Today, due to diligent wildlife preservation, the wild turkey is thriving.  Now that is something to be thankful for this season!

For information, visit www.mowildlife.org  or call 636-394-1880.