Wild Turkey Appearance

Wild turkeys are among the most popular game animals in the world. 

The wild turkey subspecies are inherently challenging, incredibly alluring and unique in their own way. Each of the five subspecies displays different physical and behavioral characteristics that define them. Get the 411 on each subspecies below: 

Eastern wild turkey

Characteristics

  • Chestnut-brown tips on tail feathers
  • White and black bars on the wings
  • Adult males weigh 18 to 30 pounds
  • Adult females weigh 8 to 12 pounds
  • Very strong gobbles (strongest gobbles of all subspecies)
  • Very long beards (longest beards of all subspecies)
  • Second to the Osceola in difficulty of calling in






Florida (Osceola) wild turkey

Characteristics

  • Dark-brown tips on tail feathers
  • Mostly black wings with very small white bands
  • Adult males weigh approximately 20 pounds
  • Adult females weigh 8 to 12 pounds
  • Long legs
  • Strong gobbles
  • Very long spurs
  • Shorter beard-lengths than Easterns on average
  • Considered the toughest species to call in




Rio Grande wild turkey

Characteristics

  • Tan-colored tips on tail feathers
  • Same amount of black and white barring on wings
  • Adult males weigh approximately 20 pounds on average
  • Adult females weigh 8 to 12 pounds
  • Moderate gobbles
  • Moderate beard-lengths
  • Moderate spur-lengths





Merriam’s wild turkey

Characteristics

  • Light tips on tail feathers and upper tail coverts (rump feathers), buff to white
  • More white and less black on wings
  • Adult males weigh 18 to 30 pounds
  • Adult females weigh 8 to 12 pounds
  • Weakest gobbles of all subspecies
  • Short to moderate beard length
  • Short spurs 




Gould’s wild turkey

Characteristics

  • Long legs similar to the Osceola
  • Snow-white tips on tail feathers and upper tail coverts
  • Wings are moderate in coloration
  • Adult males weigh 18 to 30 pounds
  • Adult females weigh 12 to 14 pounds
  • Moderate gobbles
  • Moderate beard-lengths
  • Shortest spurs of all subspecies




Ocellated turkey

Characteristics

  • Rainbow-like iridescent feathering
  • Grey tail feathers with blue and gold tips
  • White and black wings
  • Adult Males weigh 11 to 12 pounds
  • Adult females weigh 6 to 7 pounds
  • A unique, high-pitched "gobble" preceded by a hollow drumming sound
  • No beard
  • Very long spurs

  Wild Turkey Oddities: Feathers