The largest game bird in North America, flocks of wild turkeys are found in many parts of the USA and, recently, in southern Quebec. When mating season arrives in April, males engage in “strutting”, fanning their tails and gobbling, which can be heard more than a kilometer away. Males are polygamous and attempt to attract as many females as possible while fighting other males to maintain control of the harem. Females build nests lined with leaves and feathers in shallow depressions in the ground, often at the base of trees, stumps or bushes. Mating and egg-laying occur in April when the hens are a year old, and they incubate 8 to 15 eggs for 28 days. Chicks leave the nest after 24 hours and make their first flight 9 to 14 days later.
Feeding and behavior
Depending on the season, wild turkeys may feed on berries, fruit, nuts, buds, mushrooms and seeds, and may catch insects, worms, small reptiles and amphibians. Because these birds have numerous enemies, including coyote, fox, wolf, lynx, predatory birds, raccoon, skunk and mink, they tend to roost in trees whose branches overhang water, making them less accessible to predators. Reforesting of agricultural land, wildlife protection programs and controlled hunting measures have contributed to their expansion into many areas of North America. Although their abundance has increased, they will never reach the numbers of several hundred years ago.