Fink Family Farm Bird List

Fink Family Farm Bird List

The only list I faithfully keep is a list of all the birds seen on our farm since we moved here in 1977. I thought it would be fun to ad...

Friday, February 6, 2015

Leucistic Turkey?

Three turkeys that I assumed were escapees have been wandering around our farm off and on since November 19, 2014. One is blond and the other two normal turkey-colored. None of our neighbors claim them. Now that I look at the bill on the blond one (in my photos), I notice it is paler than the others. So are these wild turkeys... with one leucistic?



Okay, the birding community has not answered my question but I have by researching on the web. Wild turkeys can have many abnormal color phases, including this one according to photos I found online. I'm declaring them to be wild turkeys.

Interestingly (to me, anyway), many of the reported light colored wild turkeys seem to be the boss turkey, as this hen is. She always leads the group and decides when to move on and in what direction.

Local heritage turkey breeder Rev Woodruff says that all turkeys can interbreed, although the heavy Broad-breasted Bronze and White turkeys cannot do it naturally. They are inseminated artificially. The males are too heavy breasted to breed the females and the hens are too heavy breasted to incubate eggs. Ms. Woodruff says my hen looks to her like she has some Buff or Bourbon (heritage breeds) in her ancestry. She also says "there might be some partial barring on one of the ordinary bronze morph which suggests either some Heritage ancestry for their entire parent flock or partial expression of the genes that produce Oregon Grey" (a color morph in wild turkeys).

On the other hand, according to National Wild Turkey Federation biologist Ryan Mathis, people frequently ask if their turkeys are wild/domestic hybrids. He says it’s possible, but unlikely. Natural color abnormalities often occur among birds and so people will confuse these characteristics with those of a wild/domestic hybrid. Color abnormalities that occur in wild turkeys include black (melanistic), red (erythritic), white (albinotic) and the most commonly reported, “smoke gray phase,” which is an incomplete albino.


So I still don't know if these are wild with possibly some domestic blood or domestic gone wild. And I still wonder about that pale bill on the blond hen. I'll continue to post updates if I get more information.


2 comments:

  1. I have a white turkey with normal wild turkeys coming to my feeders in the Snowbird Mountain wilderness area of Graham County, NC. I doubt this white turkeys parents have ever met a domesticated turkey. It is hard to find a person here. As you have said the white one is the leader of the pack. I have been seeing the turkey for a 1.5 years.

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  2. Thanks for your comment, Cherrie! I think you are right. "Natural color abnormalities" are apparently pretty common.

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