OMSP offers wild turkeys foraging opportunities
Published 4:55 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2015
By EMILY D. COOK / Community Columnist
Did you know that the wild turkey was once suggested to be the national bird of the United States?
Instead, the bald eagle was chosen. It’s a good thing because can you imagine eating the national bird at Thanksgiving? That would be weird!
The wild turkey, Meleagris gallapavo silvestris, is a commonly seen and heard bird in Oak Mountain State Park.
The Eastern Wild Turkey is a large bird with the adult male (gobbler) measuring to 4 feet tall and weighing more than 20 pounds.
The male has a metallic coppery shine to its body feathers.
The tail feathers are often tipped with a lighter or darker color than the main feather. The males lack feathers on their head and it is often colored red, white and blue, especially during the spring mating season.
The female (hen) is smaller in size weighing between 8 and 12 pounds, tends to be darker in color without the metallic shine and has some feathers on her head.
Turkeys are very adaptable to virtually any dense native plant community as long as coverage and openings are widely available.
Wild turkeys prefer hardwood and mixed conifer-hardwood forests which Oak Mountain has plenty of.
Because of the large quantity of oaks and hickories within the park, we offer turkeys great foraging opportunities.
They will also on occasion eat insects, small amphibians and snakes, as they are omnivores.
Many turkey call Oak Mountain home and you can often see them along John Findley Drive between the golf course and the BMX Track.
There is a field on the right hand side of the road coming from Terrace Drive that the turkeys love to hang out in.
Come by for a visit and take a look for this large bird.
Please remember that you keep Alabama State Parks open by visiting them.