Back Yard Birds: Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkeys

by Karen Metz

Around 18 years ago, Colorado Parks and Wildlife released 10 banded Wild Turkeys within a quarter mile of my home in Franktown. This area has a pine-oak habitat, a common ecosystem for turkeys. Within two years, only one of the hens with a leg band remained; so almost all of the original 10 had died or moved elsewhere.

However, within approximately 5 years, the flock size soared to 67 and divided into two flocks. That was the size that hunting magazines (and a neighbor who is a hunter) stated would be the maximum size. A few years ago, again at about 60, the flock divided again.

I knew that the current flock was huge, by any standards, even though I had seen only a couple of hens with a few poults this year. In October, on a neighborhood walk, I counted 70 turkeys walking in a single line across the road toward the night roost.

Now, I have some updated numbers: I drove past a neighbor’s home (near the night roost site) and counted 72. I was then surprised when I counted 21 more turkeys a quarter mile from my driveway! This means that the flock size is approaching 100.

I haven’t been feeding them much, just some days putting out a little corn for the few sunrise toms and hens that I call regulars, and they gobble that up in no time. Plus they scavenge the 1/2 cup of hulled millet that I scatter for the juncos and towhees. The ponderosa pine cone crop has been so abundant that I want them to eat those, not offerings from me, but I wonder if a flock this large might have already eaten all of those pine seeds.

Anyway, my post is just for fun on how large a turkey flock can get—certainly larger than the 65 that some hunting magazines purport to be a maximum size. It would be fine with me if the flock very soon disperses.