Plank Climac Outdoors: Wild Turkeys Are Abundant in Minnesota Thanks to Ambitious Efforts – Bemidji Pioneer

As a boy rising up on an Otter Tail County dairy farm, I had by no means seen wild turkeys within the woods or fields, not to mention imagined them. Wild turkeys merely didn’t exist. Completely.

Quick ahead to current day, the county has one of many strongest populations of this emblematic species of upland gamebird within the state.

So, too, was my expertise after a few years right here in Northland. Transferring to Larger Bemidji within the early Nineties, along with residing for seven years in Polk and Marshall counties, nobody had ever seen wild turkeys. In truth, most wildlife biologists on the time believed that wild turkeys couldn’t survive the harsher and longer winters of northern Minnesota.

Presently, wild turkeys inhabit each county in northern Minnesota, together with a yard southwest of Bemidji close to Beseda. As of this writing, a flock of a couple of dozen wild turkeys has been making their rounds plucking black-oil sunflower seeds from the bottom, even resorting to hovering up and dropping my chicken feed from its stand to spill its contents onto the snow.

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A flock of untamed turkeys choosing black oil sunflower seeds from the bottom and birdsong at Blane Klemek’s homestead close to Beseda.


The turkeys that many people ate over the Thanksgiving vacation are the results of years of domestication and synthetic choice relationship again to the 1500’s.

Though some turkeys do certainly resemble their wild cousin, the obese and boring tame birds have lengthy since been faraway from their wild roots. Wild turkeys, fleet-footed, highly effective, and really cautious fliers, are considerable in lots of areas of North America.

The toms, or gobies as they’re additionally known as, are the males of the species and develop bigger than the chickens. Juvenile males are known as jakes. Relying on the subspecies (there are 5 in North America) wild turkeys can attain weights of over 20 kilos and physique lengths of as much as 4 ft.

Wingspan ranges from 50 to 60 inches. The pendants on the throats of the collars are coloured in shiny purple and blue. Lengthy, hair-like tufts of feathers known as beards, whereas additionally rising on chickens, are for much longer on consuming, particularly older birds.

The spiny bumps, known as spurs, that develop on the backs of the tom’s legs develop longer and longer because the tom ages. Spurs are sometimes used as weapons to defend themselves from potential predators and in occasional skirmishes with turkey enemies.

The black-tipped and lustrous physique plumage offers the edible a darker look than that of feminine birds. The feathers of the hen tip are buff, giving them an general brown look. This distinction is essential as a result of it’s the hen that incubates the eggs and takes care of the younger, or hatchlings, as they’re known as. Cryptic coloration is required to flee the discover of predatory mammals and birds.

Tom’s well-known show — ruffled feathers, fluffed tail, croaking vocalizations — serves a function, in fact. Through the spring breeding season, grownup eaters compete with different males for the eye of chicks.

TOMS will create “strutting zones” and can vigorously defend these zones from different cities. Though it’s a true woodland chicken, throughout mating season these shows are carried out the place they are often simply seen, corresponding to in woodland openings, area edges, and alongside trails.

The jap subspecies of untamed turkeys has been launched throughout Minnesota, however the latest releases occurred within the northwestern a part of the state in 2008. Since a number of birds have been launched within the early Nineteen Seventies, the turkey inhabitants has grown to over 70,000 birds in the present day.

Inhabitants densities are highest within the southeastern and central areas of Minnesota, however the enlargement of the turkey’s vary has steadily elevated north. A few of this enlargement occurred with just a little assist from wildlife managers. In truth, wild turkeys are rewriting the e book on habitat necessities and discovering appropriate niches the place they have been beforehand thought of unsuitable.

Wild turkeys at the moment are discovered alongside the north shore of Lake Superior. Nevertheless, the first habitat required for turkey survival is usually mature hardwood forests interspersed with each farmland and non-farm fields and woodland openings. Walnuts are a favourite meals, as are different nuts, berries, seeds, crops, and bugs.

Because of formidable efforts to re-establish wild turkeys all through their historic vary and, in some instances, in locations the place they’ve by no means been, wild turkeys are considerable in Minnesota. Wild turkeys pose zero threat to grumble and different endemic wildlife populations, and are native birds to Minnesota that we are able to observe, hunt, and respect whereas we’re out and about having fun with the nice outdoor.

Blane Klemek is the director of wildlife for Minnesota DNR. It may be accessed at

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