A Talk on the Wild Side.
Wild tom (male) turkeys parade with fanned tail feathers at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. A tom is also known as a gobbler. Photo by Larry Smith, Flickr Creative Commons
What more is there to know about those funny birds that help define Thanksgiving?
You’d be surprised. Odds are turkeys are even wilder than you thought.
Amuse your holiday guests with some offbeat turkey trivia presented by the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Then, when you’re ready to walk off your feast, consider pointing your feet toward some scenic outdoor spots where you might see the native game birds in the wild. Some of the best of those turkey-hangout spots: national wildlife refuges, dedicated to conserving habitat for America’s wildlife. Refuges are closer than you think. In the same photo feature, we tell you just where to look.
A wild turkey folds its iridescent feathers, mimicking the look of abstract art, at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Copyright Mike Williams
Test yourself. Here’s a sample Q from the story:
How can you tell a turkey’s sex and age?
And the answer is….. B. Yes, the droppings have it. Male droppings are j-shaped; female droppings are spiral-shaped. No kidding. The larger the diameter, the older the bird.
How about places to maybe catch a glimpse of turkeys at large?
If you thought you had to live in the Northeast or Midwest to see turkeys in the wild, think again. Here, for example, are two spots with turkeys galore:
St Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
To boost your chances of seeing turkeys, drop your car speed to a crawl. “Turkeys are sensitive to the movement of vehicles,” says ranger David Moody. Or get out and walk, slowly. Turkeys like the open terrain of the longleaf pine sandhill ecosystem along the Florida National Scenic Trail, almost 50 miles of which go through the refuge.
A pair of wild Rio Grande turkeys — a tom (left) and a hen — have eyes for each other at Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Photo by Robert Burton/USFWS
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge , New Mexico
Hundreds of Rio Grande turkeys hang out here. The North and South Auto Tour Loops are good places to spot some. Other good spots: along the Rio Viejo Trail, the John Taylor Memorial Trail or the bike trail on the east side service road of the Low Flow Conveyance Channel.
Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your feast and our online story — one of a series of photo features that highlight the wildlife and recreation at national wildlife refuges. A new story is posted on the Refuge System home page each Wednesday.
Read the story at https://www.fws.gov/refuges/features/WildFacts.html
Susan Morse, National Wildlife Refuge System communications