The male wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), weighing in at around 20 pounds, is one of the largest birds in North America. By comparison, many domestic turkeys — the kind you’ll likely be feasting on at the Thanksgiving table — weigh twice as much. Female wild turkeys are roughly half the size of the male.


The heads of male wild turkeys are featherless and colorful, with odd sounding structures: the snood, caruncles, and wattle. Their head can even change color depending on the turkey’s mood. Blue means “Hey, good lookin’!” Red means “I’m ticked off!” The “beard” of the wild turkey grows from the chest and is comprised of filamentous feathers. Males also grow spike-like spurs on their legs, used for fighting.