Wild Turkey Hunting Network
NWTF Turkey Facts: Wildly Different: Gould's Subspecies

Credit: National Wild Turkey Federation
Gould's Wild Turkey
(Meleagris gallopavo mexicana)

The fifth recognized, but least known, wild turkey subspecies is the Gould's found in portions of Arizona and New Mexico, as well as northern Mexico. It was first described by J. Gould in 1856 during his travels in Mexico.

Like the Merriam's, the Gould's is a bird of the mountains. It exists in very small numbers along the U.S./Mexico borders in Arizona and New Mexico, but is abundant in the northwestern portions of Mexico. The Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service, the Centro Ecologico de Sonora, the National Wild Turkey Federation and other agencies are working cooperatively to reintroduce a strong Gould's population into Arizona and eventually other states where suitable range exists.

The Gould's turkey is the largest of the 5 subspecies and resembles the Merriam's turkey. They have longer legs, larger feet and larger center tail feathers than any of the other wild turkey subspecies in North America. Gould's differ by having distinctive white tips on the tail feathers and tail rump coverts which usually separate to show an "eyelash" appearance. Lower back and rump feathers have copper and greenish-golden reflections, not like the faintly iridescent velvety black found on the Merriam's. Gould's body plumage is said to be somewhat blue-green in coloration. Adult females have a less pronounced metallic greenish and reddish sheen and are more purplish.

The Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains in Mexico are the center of the Gould's turkey Mexican range, extending south from the U.S./Mexico border. Populations exist in Chihuahua, Sonora, Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, Nayarit, Jalisco and Coahuila. In the United States, Gould's turkeys are found in the Animas and San Luis mountains of New Mexico and in the Peloncillo Mountains of New Mexico and Arizona.

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