Turkey Facts: Wildly Different: Eastern Subspecies
Tom Evans/National Wild
eastern wild turkey is the most widely distributed, abundant and hunted
turkey subspecies of the five distinct subspecies found in the United States.
It inhabits roughly the eastern half of the country. The eastern wild turkey
is found in the hardwood and mixed forests from New England and southern
Canada to northern Florida and west to Texas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota.
It has also been successfully transplanted in states outside of its original
range including: California, Oregon and Washington.
Vieillot first described and named the eastern subspecies in 1817 using
the word silvestris, meaning "forest" turkey.
the eastern wild turkey ranges the farthest north, individuals can also
grow to be among the largest of any of the subspecies. The adult male,
called a gobbler or tom, may measure up to 4 feet tall at maturity and
weigh more than 20 pounds. Its upper tail coverts, which cover the base
of the long tail feathers, are tipped with chestnut brown and tail tips
with dark buff or chocolate brown. In contrast, the breast feathers are
tipped in black. Other body feathers are characterized by rich, metallic,
primary wing feathers have white and black bars that extend from the outer
edge of each all the way to the shaft. Secondary wing feathers have prominent
white bars and are edged in white, producing a whitish triangular area
on each side of the back when the wings are folded on the back.
mature female, called a hen, may be nearly as tall but is usually lighter,
weighing between 8 and 12 pounds. Females are similar in color to the males
but more brown, and the metallic reflections are less brilliant. Feathers
of the hen's breast, flanks and sides are tipped with brown rather than
the black and white tips of the male.
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