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Wild Turkeys

Wild turkeys are found in the Laurel Lake area and throughoutmuch of West Virginia. Turkeys are related to pheasants, chickens, and peafowl.American Indians have been known to raise turkeys long before Columbus discoveredAmerica.

Wild turkeys eat fruit, seeds, nuts, and insects. Wild turkeys can fly andrun quickly. Domestic turkeys cannot fly or run rapidly.

Male turkeys are called toms; females are called hens; and baby turkeys areknown as poults. Male turkeys in the wild weigh between 11 and 16 pounds andmeasure up to 4 feet in length. Female wild turkeys weigh between 6 and 10pounds.

The heads and necks of male turkeys have no feathers and they are very redin color. A tom's wattle is a long piece of loose skin that begins beneath his jaw andextends down his neck. At the base of the turkey's neck are wart-like structurescalled carnucles.

Turkeys hide in trees at night for protection from predators.

In the Laurel Lake area, mating season for wild turkeys reaches its peak in April. Males gobble to attract females to their breeding grounds. Following breeding, the hen findsa suitable nesting spot. Nests are constructed beside woodland roads, beneath protection of tree tops, and in other wooded areas. Over a 2 week period, turkey hens lay between 10 and13 eggs. This usually ends in May. Incubation lasts for about 28 days. Each brood containsapproximately equal numbers of male and female poults. Turkeys are self-reliant after theyreach 4 to 5 weeks of age.