Wild Turkey

Hey guys welcome back. Today is my last life bird before moving out of New York and it’s also possibly the first life bird I got after moving to New York. Let me explain. For many years, a female wild turkey lived in New York City’s Battery Park. Her name was Zelda, and she even has her own Wikipedia page. Before I got into birding, I would see Zelda fairly often when I was there. For a time before working in Central Park, I did bicycle tours through the city and one of our locations was Battery Park, and tourists would be in awe of this large bird just walking around. Zelda was certainly the first wild turkey I ever saw, but it was years before I began birding. Funny enough, after I began birding, I never saw Zelda. Go figure. I finally added wild turkey to my list while driving back to New York City from the Hamptons shortly before moving to St. Louis. It was walking around on the side of the road. Since being back in Ohio, I’ve seen literally dozens upon dozens of them. One park in particular has a flock of about 15 that can be seen pretty regularly, so at least in Ohio, they aren’t as scarce as they once may have been.

Wild turkey. Chagrin River Park, Willoughby, OH

The wild turkey is one of only two turkey species in the world, with the other being the ocellated turkey which lived mostly on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The domesticated turkey, which is derived from the wild turkey, is one of only two domesticated birds native to North America. Turkeys spend their day foraging the ground for nuts, seeds, and fruit and can be found in all of the lower 48 states and into parts of southern Canada. Contrary to what some people think, turkeys can in fact fly and roost in trees at night to stay safe from predators like bobcats and coyotes. Some birds of prey will go after turkeys as well including the great horned owl and golden eagle. By the early 20th century, wild turkey populations had decreased due to habitat loss and overhunting. Reintroduction of birds using domesticated farm turkeys was tried, but failed. Eventually it was the transporting of wild birds to areas with lower populations that helped turn things around. The birds are now fairly plentiful throughout their range with enough birds to still have turkey hunting seasons. And with that, we now begin the somewhat short portion of my life list with birds I first saw in St. Louis. Cliff swallow is up next. See you all then!

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