Currently, Wild Turkey thrives in Texas. There are an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 in Texas with the largest population found in the Edwards Plateau, in a portion of the Rio Grande plains. in South Texas.
The bodies of wild turkeys are covered with 5,000 to 6,000 feathers. These feathers provide insulation, lift during flight, and touch sensation and ornamentation. A wild turkey undergoes five molts (feather replacement) during its lifetime: natal, juvenile, first basic, alternate (first winter), and basic (adult plumage). The body feathers of toms are vibrantly colored: iridescent copper, bronze, red, green, and gold. While hens have these same colors, they are significantly dulled and muted which causes the female to appear brown. Gobblers have a beard, which is a cluster of long follicles in the center of their chest that can be an inch to 10 inches long.
Gobblers attract a hen’s attention by gobbling and strutting. The hen will select a mate by lying close to the ground in front of him, which signals the male to begin copulation. Nesting begins in early spring in south Texas and continues on through July and August in central and north Texas. Hens choose nesting sites that are in grass clumps, brush piles, understory brush, or leaf litter.
As you are eating your turkey on Thanksgiving, remember some of the facts you learned about turkeys. You may never look at that bird the same way again.