Wild Turkey Anatomy – Foundry Outdoors
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Wild Turkey Anatomy

The wild turkey has some interesting anatomical features. Many hunters aren't aware of the details of the turkeys' anatomy, and in this post, we will take a look at some of those details. 


wild turkey

Many hunters scratch their heads when they think of what the snood could possibly be for, ya know, the red dingle thing that sits over their beak. 

The snood (actual given name to this piece of turkey anatomy), and its' bright red coloration are used to attract hens for one, and it can also help regulate the birds' body temperature on hot summer days. 

Head Coloration

wild turkey

The ability of a tom turkey to change the coloration of its head is still not completely understood to this day among researchers. 

There is definitely a correlation between the birds' mood and the coloration changes though, with the colors changing from blue, to red, and white depending on whether the bird is excited, agitated, in fear, or irritated. 

When it comes to mating, there is usually a white coloration that appears on the top of the head of a tom turkey. 


wild turkey

The beard of the turkey is another ornamental feature that the males possess that serves the purpose of attracting mates. 

The beard isn't actually a beard at all, but a form of a modern feather. Hen turkeys can also have beards, although it is very rare, leading some researchers to question the importance of the beard for mating. 


The spurs that jut out from the rear of a turkeys' foot are the bird's main means of defense. Spurs can be pretty long and can cause significant lacerations and bruising for the threat. 

Spurs are also used to fight other tom turkeys in order to establish dominance in the pecking order, in a similar way as deer, elk, or rams fight. 


wild turkey

Turkeys possess some seriously powerful eyes. They work as monocular periscope vision and allow turkeys to see small movements from very long distances. 

The eyes of the turkey can also work independently of one another, and due to the eyes being situated on the sides of their heads and not in a forward-facing position they can scan two different areas simultaneously and process the images in a nearly 360-degree field of view. 

The eyesight of the turkey is the main tool used against predators and hunters alike. 

Tail Feathers

wild turkey

The main trophy characteristic of a turkey for most hunters, the tail fan of a turkey serves a couple of crucial purposes. 

The most obvious is to attract hens, but tom turkeys also fan in an attempt to look larger and intimidate other tom turkeys during the breeding season. 

The other crucial use of tail feathers is for flying, and a turkey can use them like a giant rudder to control their direction in flight, as well as use them for an airbrake when landing on tree limbs to roost, or for ground landings. 

Final Thoughts 

Who would have thought the turkey had so many interesting features? There are actually more than this, but we could probably write an entire book on the subject of wild turkey anatomy and behavior! 








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