Merriam’s Wild Turkey

 

 

Merriam's Wild Turkey

 

Common Name: Merriam’s Wild Turkey
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Genus: Meleagris
Species: Meleagris gallopavo
Subspecies: Meleagris gallopavo merriami

Merriam’s Wild Turkeys are close in size to the Eastern Wild Turkey, but tend to weigh less than their related subspecies. Adult male turkeys, also known as a gobbler or tom, average 4 feet (122 cm) in height and weigh on average 18 – 24 pounds (8 – 11 kg) and have been known to weigh up to 25 – 28 pounds (113 – 13 kg). Juvenile male turkeys, also known as jakes, will typically be a third of the size of a mature turkey, weighing an average of 15 – 20 pounds (7 – 9 kg). The Merriam’s Wild Turkey is characterized by near white tipped tail coverts (the smaller feathers that cover the larger feathers) and white tail feather tips. The breast feathers usually have white tips, while the body feathers are an iridescence of purple, blue and bronze. Female turkeys, also known as hens, can be the same height as males, but weigh about 8 – 14 pounds (4 – 6 kg).
Merriam's Wild Turkey - Left Foot Print
Left Foot Print
Merriam's Wild Turkey - Right Foot Print
Right Foot Print
Merriam’s Wild Turkey Distribution/Habitat


 

Merriam's Wild Turkey - Distribution

Merriam’s Wild Turkey are native to the pine forests of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico and have been introduced to Montana, Nebraska, Washington Oregon and California. Since their introduction to these northern and western pacific states, their range also includes portions of Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota.

Merriam’s Wild Turkey Diet


 

Merriam's Wild Turkey - Jake

Merriam’s Wild Turkey have a wide variety of foods in their diet ranging from chokecherries, bearberries, ponderosa pine seeds, and grain like corn, oats and wheat. They also enjoy eating insects such as grasshoppers, spiders and beetles. While their range is not as far spread as the Eastern Wild Turkey, a Merriam’s diet can be very broad, as there are plants that are indigenous to certain areas of the country.

Merriam’s Wild Turkey Reproduction


 

Merriam's Wild Turkey - Egg Nest

Merriam’s lay their eggs from late-March to early-April depending on their geographic location and typically laying an average of 10 – 12 eggs. This process can take about 2 weeks, as turkeys will usually only lay one egg a day. During the incubation period of 26 – 28 days, the hen will move the eggs periodically throughout the day. Once the incubation period has passed, the eggs may hatch within a 24-hour period of one another. The hen and her newly hatched turkeys (also called poults) will leave the nest within 12 – 24 hours of being hatched in search of food.

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