Wild Turkey Hunting Network
NWTF Turkey Facts: Wildly Different: Florida Subspecies

Credit: Bob Lollo/
National Wild Turkey Federation 
Florida Wild Turkey
(Meleagris gallopavo osceola)

The Florida wild turkey, also referred to as the Osceola, is found only on the peninsula of Florida. This particular subspecies was first described in 1890 by W.E.D. Scott who named it for the famous Seminole Chief, Osceola, who led his tribe against the Americans in a 20-year war beginning in 1835.

It's similar to the eastern wild turkey, but is smaller and darker in color with less white veining in the wing quills. The white bars in these feathers are narrow, irregular, broken and do not extend all the way to the feather shaft. The black bars predominate the feather. Secondary wing feathers are also dark. When the wings are folded on the back, there are no whitish triangular patches as seen on the eastern.

Feathers of the Florida turkey show more iridescent green and red colors, with less bronze than the eastern. The dark color of the tail coverts and the large tail feathers tipped in brown are similar to the eastern, but unlike the lighter colors of the 3 western subspecies. Its colorations and behavior are ideal for the flat pine woods, oak and palmetto hammocks and swamp habitats of Florida. Adult females, or hens, are similar to the males but duller and lighter colored throughout, except wing feathers, which are darker.

The reproductive cycle for the Florida wild turkey begins only slightly earlier than for the eastern wild turkey in other southern states. However, in southern Florida, turkeys gobble during warm spells in January, several weeks before actual mating. Egg laying is mainly in April with the cycle complete with peak hatching occurring in May.

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