This week on Discover Nature, listen for wild turkeys gobbling in Missouri woods and grasslands.
This popular gamebird, once a contender for our national bird, makes many other vocal sounds as well.
Adult males – called ‘Toms’ – are large and dark, with a bare, red, white, and blue head, long legs, and bronzy feathers. Males, and some females, have a tuft of hair-like bristles – called a ‘beard’ – in the middle of the breast. Females are smaller and less iridescent.
In the spring, males begin gobbling and strutting, spreading their tails like a peacock to attract mates. After mating, females care for their young alone, creating shallow nests on the ground.
In the 1950s turkeys reached an all-time low with fewer than 2500 birds in 14 Missouri counties. Through decades of dedicated conservation efforts, Missouri now boasts an estimated turkey population of more than 300-thousand.
Discover Nature is heard Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning on KBIA. It is brought to you by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Discover Nature is a production of the Missouri Department of Conservation.