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Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey
Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Meleagrididae
Genus: Meleagris
Species: gallopavo
Binomial name
Meleagris gallopavo

The Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo, is a large gamebird.

Adults have a bluish featherless small head, a red throat, long legs and a dark body. They have a long dark fan-shaped tail. Their wings are a glossy bronze. Males have red wattles on the throat and neck and are significantly larger than females.

Their breeding habitat is wooded areas, usually with clearings, across most of the United States and parts of southern Canada. They nest on the ground at the bottom of a tree, shrub or in tall grass. Males are polygamous.

They are permanent residents.

These birds forage on the ground or climb shrubs to eat berries. They are omnivorous, eating acorns, seeds, berries, roots and insects, sometimes snakes, frogs or salamanders.

They are relatively weak fliers and will escape on foot if possible; at night, these birds roost in trees.

Only the males "gobble"; the females cluck. This bird was Benjamin Franklin's preference as the national bird for the United States. It has been adopted as the official game bird of South Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma and Massachusetts.

It is the traditional main dish for the Thanksgiving holiday, which is held in November in North America, but of course it is now normally replaced by the domesticated turkey.

The range and numbers of this bird had decreased at the beginning of the 20th century due to hunting and loss of habitat. As their population rebounded in the 1980s and 1990s, hunting was legalized in most states. Harvest is limited using a lottery system.

Wild Turkey is the name of a popular brand of bourbon whiskey made by the Austin, Nichols distilling company.