Plate 37: Wild Turkey

Meleagris gallopavo

Nests & Eggs: Wild Turkey

Widely associated with Thanksgiving, these common birds are seen all year round.

The sight of a flock of Wild Turkeys coasting on their strong wings from the crest of a ridge to the lower levels is one long to be remembered. The spectacle before us, of weighty, muscular creatures hurling themselves through the air is difficult to believe, accustomed as we are to the flightless clumsiness of their cousins of the barnyard.

Having very keen senses, the Wild Turkeys are difficult to approach, for they are very wary and at the slightest warning make off on a run up the ridge, or leap into the air.

In summer, they eat many small fruits and insects, including grasshoppers, but in winter, when it is often necessary for them to scratch in the snow, they eat chestnuts and acorns, the berries of Jack-in-the-pulpit, corn if they live near the farms, and other such food as they can find. In some districts these splendid birds have difficulty in finding adequate food to carry them through the winter and in such regions the Game Protector sees that the birds are fed, and Boy Scouts, sportsmen’s organizations, and others coöperate in saving the birds.

The Wild Turkey gobbler, notably in the spring, has the same tendencies toward fighting and vainglorious display as has his domestic relative.

An Introduction to the Birds of Pennsylvania by Sutton
  • Print out the notebooking pages provided below.
  • Read out loud the story about Tom the Gobbler in The Burgess Bird Book below.
  • Have a younger student orally narrate what was read. He can then copy a few lines of his narration onto the notebooking pages.
  • Older students can read the text, Plate XXXVII: Wild Turkey, and provide a written narration.
  • Sketch the bird. This encourages attention to detail, which will aid in identifying the bird later on. Another option is to use the printables provided below.
  • Sketch the nest of the bird, along with the eggs. Note where the nest is usually found.
  • Older students can include the taxonomy.
  • Learn more about the Wild Turkey at Cornell.
  • On one notebooking page note the facts:
    • Description.
    • Habitat.
    • Range.
    • Food.
    • Nest.
    • Eggs.
    • Call.
  • The turkey is covered in The Burgess Bird Book: CHAPTER XIX. A Maker of Thunder and a Friend in Black.
Additional Resources

30 Narration Ideas
At some point you might appreciate some variety.

The Bird Study sections of our free nature study series: Our Wonderful World:

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Printables & Notebooking Pages

Wild Turkey Notebooking Pages
Free simple notebooking set.

Bird picture for notebook.

Wild Turkey Range Map
For notebook from Cornell.

Bird Facts Notebooking Page
One option in a more graphic organizer style that is especially nice for noting the facts and range.

Enjoy the entire series:
Nest & Eggs ~ Intro & Free eBook
Free Bird Studies: Nests & Eggs ~ Complete Series

Create a website or blog at