Animals

Watch Out for Gangs (of Turkeys!)

Fun facts about turkeys and their habits, just in time for Thanksgiving table conversation.


This group of three tom turkeys was holding up traffic in the middle of an intersection in my neighborhood the other day (if you're curious this is the corner of Perrymont Road & Lindisfarne Drive in McCandless). So just in time for your Thanksgiving dinner conversation, I was Sparkt to give you some fun facts about wild turkeys.

A group of turkeys is indeed called a gang or a posse (even a rafter). Figure that one out. Makes it sound like they're out to cause trouble.

The guys are called toms or gobblers and often hang out by themselves in groups of threes. The ladies, like the group below (in my neighbor's yard, on Swan Drive in Ross) are known as hens and can flock in groups of up to 40 hens and their young according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Even though the number of turkeys in urban and suburban areas is growing, they were almost extinct in Pennsylvania by the 1930's because of over-hunting and logging which destroyed their habitat, according to the Game Commission . Now they're so common (400,000+) the game commission actually traps them and ships them off to areas of the state where there are fewer wild turkeys, or even "transfers" them out of state.

When it comes to wild turkeys, the good die young, even those who manage to avoid hunters and cars (a turkey can run up to 12mph). Experts say half to three-quarters of all baby turkeys (called "poults") die within two weeks of hatching and the average life expectancy of those who do survive is only about three years (although some have been known to survive 10 years or more).

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