Think of the word “turkey”. Did the word automatically conjure up images of farmed domesticated turkeys or Thanksgiving?
Be on the lookout for flocks of wild turkeys!
Written by Corinne Lackner Stephens – August 6, 2013
Think of the word “turkey”. Did the word automatically conjure up images of farmed domesticated turkeys or Thanksgiving? If you traveled the hiker-biker trail along Sligo Creek between Forest Glen Road and Colesville Road this spring, you may be inclined to think instead of our native eastern Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris). According to observations made by M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks employees and postings on the Friends of Sligo Creek “Sightings” website, Wild Turkeys called the area around Sligo Creek “home” this spring.
According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Maryland’s Wild Turkey population is increasing. If you observe a wild turkey in Maryland this summer, you can help the DNR gauge reproductive success by participating in the annual summer Wild Turkey observation survey. Wild Turkey observations made between July 1 and August 31 should be reported via this form: www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Hunt_Trap/pdfs/2013_TurkeySurveyForm.pdf
At the same time, please let us know about your Wild Turkey sightings in Sligo Creek Park by responding to this article. If you remember the date, location, or have a photo, please share that info as well. Don’t forget to report your wild turkey sightings on the “Sightings” page of the Friends of Sligo Creek website.
Sligo Creek Park provides habitat for these large birds, as they prefer forest edge, marshes, and mature open forests interspersed with grassy openings. An adult male (tom) is one of the largest birds you can observe in our area; they can grow to three feet tall, four feet long, and weigh up to 25 pounds!
Wild Turkeys are omnivores, eating acorns and other nuts, berries, seeds, insects, snails, and grasses. They mate in early spring and females (hens) lay approximately 12 eggs in ground-level nests in mid-April. The eggs usually hatch in early June. Multiple hens and their broods often form large flocks in the summer, so be on the lookout for groups of these large dark-colored birds.
Do you want to learn more about our native Wild Turkeys? There is abundant information on the DNR website: www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Hunt_Trap/wildturk/home4turkeys.asp and the Chesapeake Bay Program website: www.chesapeakebay.net/fieldguide/critter/wild_turkey.
About the Author: Corinne Lackner Stephens is a member of the Friends of Sligo Creek Stormwater Committee and the Certification Manager/Biologist for the Wildlife Habitat Council in Silver Spring, MD.