Strutting casually across open fields near wooded areas throughout Nature’s Place to Play are some big beautiful birds. Some might even associate them with a certain holiday meal. They are the Osceola wild turkey. Discovered in 1890, they were named after a famous Seminole Indian chief.
Also known as the Florida wild turkey, they are one of five North American subspecies and they are found only in Florida.
Whether out for a day of hiking in our parks and preserves or just taking a country drive, it’s exciting to spot such magnificent wildlife. Watch for the iridescent blue, green and bronze shine of their breast feathers.
Often if you see one, you will see a flock. Males are called toms or “Gobblers.” Females are hens and young are called chicks or poults. Juvenile males are referred to as “jakes,” like those shown below.
Mainly walkers, Osceola wild turkey are fast; they can run at up to 20 mph and fly for short distances at speeds up to 55 mph.
The Osceola wild turkey subspecies is distinquished from the eastern wild turkey by its darker coloring, other wing feather markings and slightly smaller size.
Thanks to general conservation, available habitat and wildlife management efforts over past decades, the Osceola wild turkey population around Florida’s Adventure Coast is healthy. Look for them when hiking, birding or even taking scenic drives through some of our natural areas. When you see some of these glorious gobblers, enjoy this glimpse into a wildlife success story.