NC Wild Turkey History

When early European settlers arrived in America turkeys were plentiful in North Carolina and were probably found throughout the entire state. By the turn of the century, however, few turkeys remained.

The decline was primarily due to unregulated and heavy market hunting, rapid deforestation and habitat destruction throughout the state. This decline continued into the 1960s.

Turkeys are once again common in North Carolina, thanks to a restoration program implemented by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission that involved live-trapping and relocating wild turkeys from sites in North Carolina and other states to areas in the state where the bird had previously disappeared.

The male eastern wild turkey has dark plumage with striking bronze, copper and green iridescent colors. On the inside of their legs, males have pointed growths known as spurs that they use when battling other males for mates.

Males also have a growth of bristle-like feathers known as the “beard” that extends from the chest. It is not uncommon, however, to find females with a beard. The head and neck of adult males is largely bare and varies in color from red to blue to white, depending on the bird’s mood. Females are usually duller in color than males, which help camouflage them while they are nesting.

The eastern wild turkey thrives best in areas with a mix of forested and open land habitats. Forested areas are used for cover, foraging, and for roosting in trees at night. Open land areas are used for foraging, mating, and brood rearing.
Turkey 11.75 beard._1.25 spurs April 14 2010 Pope 013