ARTISTS AND BIRDS
by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"A Successful Introduction"

Wild Turkeys

wild turkey        When my son Steve and his dad saw a Wild Turkey in the mountains above Price, Utah forty years ago, it was a rare happening. Very few people ever had the privilege back then to see Turkeys in the wild, even though Turkey bones, Turkey feather blankets and other prehistoric evidence show that Turkeys were in Utah as far back as the Anasazi and Fremont Indian civilizations. Turkeys were extirpated from the state long before the settlers arrived. Seeing a Wild Turkey in the 1970s was a sight for them to remember and hold dear.

        The first efforts to reintroduce Wild Turkeys to Utah occurred in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. These efforts failed. Then in the 1950s the Utah Department of Fish and Game introduced Merriam Turkeys from Arizona and Colorado and the efforts were somewhat successful. In 1984 the Rio Grand Turkeys were introduced to Utah and biologists found the habitat was excellent for the introduction of this species. There are approximately 20,000 Wild Turkeys that live among us today. Utah has enough habitat to support a population of 25,000 to 30,000.

        Benjamin Franklin called the Wild Turkey “A bird of courage.” If he would have had his way, the Wild Turkey would be our country’s national symbol, not the Bald Eagle. They are the largest of all Utah game birds, weighing up to 21 pounds and considered the “trophy species.” Wild Turkeys are a streamlined version of the barnyard Turkey with longer legs. They are very intelligent birds. Did you know that nests are usually located near brushy cover with a convenient escape route? Consider yourself lucky if you get to see a Wild Turkey. For more information about Wild Turkeys or the monthly activities of the Red Cliffs Audubon call 435 673-0996. Marilyn Davis is the artist this week.


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