With many people thinking about turkey this time of year, we thought we would provide some interesting facts about wild turkeys for you to share during your holiday gatherings!
- Turkeys are not native to California but were introduced by European settlers. Most turkeys we eat are raised on farms but there are millions of turkeys that roam wild. The population of wild turkeys in California is estimated today to be roughly a quarter million birds!
- Turkeys are polygamous, meaning they will have more than one mate. They breed in the spring and as a result, males are more aggressive during that time. We've heard stories of people being chased by male turkeys while crossing the street!
- Female turkeys only lay 1 egg a day but will lay a total of 9 to 13 eggs over 2 weeks. Newly hatched turkeys will leave the nest within 12 to 24 hours.
- They are omnivores, eating plant material like grasses and fruit as well as insects, rodents, and lizards.
- Although tempting, you should not feed wild turkeys. Wild animals should be left to forage and hunt for themselves and not rely on humans for food. Did you know that it is in fact illegal to feed wildlife in California?
- Thinking of stalking your neighborhood flock to snag a bird for your holiday feast? Turkeys are considered game birds so there is a hunting season and you will need a license by the California Fish and Wildlife Department.
Learn more about wild turkeys and how to manage them in your neighborhood or property, by visiting the UC IPM publication Pest Notes: Wild Turkeys.