Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)


French: Dindon sauvage German: Truthuhn Spanish: Guajolote gallipavo
Other common names: Eastern Wild Turkey (silvestris), Florida Turkey (osceola), Rio Grande Turkey (intermedia), Merriam's Turkey (merriami), Gould's Turkey (mexicana)

Meleagris gallopavo


, 1758,

North America = Mexico


Geographical variation not particularly notable, and differences among races somewhat obscured by artificial releases#R#R. In recent genetic analyses, present delimitations of subspecies based on morphological traits were generally supported, except that E & SE subspecies (silvestris and osceola) formed a single unit; mexicana was the most genetically divergent (but the least genetically diverse) race#R. Birds of NW Mexico sometimes awarded separate race, onusta. Six subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. g. silvestris Vieillot, 1817 – E North America from S Canada (S Ontario) S in USA, W to Great Plains, into Texas and N Florida.
  • M. g. osceola W. E. D. Scott, 1890 – peninsular Florida (SE USA).
  • M. g. intermedia Sennett, 1879 – C USA (Kansas) S into N Mexico; also translocated to areas W of historical range, including California, Oregon and Washington.
  • M. g. merriami Nelson, 1900 – W Great Plains and Rocky Mts S to NW Mexico (N Sonora); also translocated to areas W of historical range, including Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
  • M. g. mexicana Gould, 1856 – Mexico in mountains W of Central Plateau (C & W Chihuahua and S Sonora S to Jalisco and E Sinaloa).
  • M. g. gallopavo Linnaeus, 1758 – SC Mexico Jalisco E to Veracruz, and S to Guerrero; formerly to Oaxaca.
  • Introduced to Hawaii (intermedia), New Caledonia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Found also in lowland tropical forests of SE Mexico (Yucatán Peninsula), Belize and Guatemala.

    Descriptive notes

    Male 100–125 cm, and 5000–11,200 g (may reach 13,100 g in captivity); female 76–95 cm, and 2200–4200 g. Male up to 30% larger than female and has well... read more


    Displaying male utters liquid-sounding ‘gobbling’ (audible over > 1 km) which is... read more


    Tolerant of broad range of conditions, from temperate (including pines) and subtropical forests to... read more

    Food and feeding

    Most feeding occurs on ground and sometimes forms large, usually single-sex flocks in winter (exceptionally up to 500 in race ... read more


    Gregarious with well-developed social hierarchy, but males do not defend well-defined territories. Starts in early spring (exceptionally... read more


    Not long-distance migrants, moving only 5–20 km; some altitudinal migration occurs in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Numerous and hunted as game species throughout much of range. Populations declined as result of over-exploitation, with total numbers... read more

    Recommended citation

    Porter, W.F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 April 2020).