Turkey Feathers

About Turkeys

Wild Turkeys are enormous, fat birds with long legs, broad, rounded tails, and a small head on a narrow neck.

Turkeys are dark entirely with a bronze-green iridescence to the most maximum of their plumage. Their wings are dark, strongly barred with white color.

Their tail and rump feathers are significantly tipped with white or rusty. The bare skin of the neck and head differs from blue to red to grey.

Turkeys travel in herds and look on the ground for berries, nuts, snails, and insects.

At the start of spring, males gather in fields to perform courtship displays. They blow up their body feathers, widen their tails into an erect fan, and strut slowly while offering a special gobbling call. At night, these birds fly up into trees to roost in flocks.

5 Supspecies of the Wild Turkey

Eastern Wild Turkey

Eastern Wild Turkeys (M.g. silvestris) exist in the eastern part of the United States; the name “silvestris” indicates “forest” turkey.

Florida Wild Turkey

Florida Wild Turkeys (M.g. Osceola) exist in the southern part of Florida; called for a Seminole chief.

Merriam’s Wild Turkey

Merriam’s Wild Turkeys (M.g. merriami) exist in the hilly areas of the western United States; named in respect of the first chief of the United States Biological Survey, C. Hart Merriam.

Rio Grande Wild Turkey

Rio Grande Wild Turkeys (M.g. intermedia) exist in the south-central plains states and north-eastern Mexico; initially reported in 1879 by George B. Sennett.

Gould’s Wild Turkey

Gould’s Wild Turkey (M.g. Mexicana) exists in parts of Southern Arizona and Northwestern Mexico, and New Mexico; the most comprehensive of the subspecies and is threatened.

Studying Turkey Feather Structure

Turkey feathers are one of the most incredible things in Turkeys to study because of their size. You can notice the structures of the feathers more efficiently on a turkey than a small sparrow that you might spot in your backyard.

The central shaft holding the feather to the bird’s body gives the feather its structure. The portion of the shaft that spreads beneath the body is called the calamus.

The portion of the shaft that is detected outside of the bird’s body is known as rachis. The vane of the feather is formed up of barbs that spread out from the rachis.

These barbs have small barbules with hooklets that tie feathers together and offer a smooth surface and shape. Using a hand-held magnifier, you can quickly investigate the small details of feathers that provide them with their unique characteristics.

Turkey Feather Colors

Today, turkeys have achieved global fame because of their meat’s nutritional value and good taste. However, here we want to share the turkey feathers colors of both wild and domesticated turkeys.

Wild Turkeys

You may have noticed only brown and white-colored turkeys, but you might be amazed at the various colors you’ll find of wild and domesticated turkeys. Each of the breeds has particular characteristics and unique feathers type.

Males are banded with multicolored feathers that shine in bronze, gold, green, copper, and red colors. Some wild classes also have different color phases, for example, gray, black, brown, reddish, and even albino.

  • Wild Turkey

Domestic Turkeys

You can witness domestic turkeys with a wide variety of colorful feathers. The shades of their feathers are also a great indicator of their production.

Both small and giant turkey species have white-colored feathers. Both Broad Breasted Bronze and Bourbon Red species possess dark coloration that glows with russet, copper, and chestnut colors.

Additional shades colored with bright blue and green color are seen in Gray Narragansett, Blue Slate, and Black Spanish turkeys. Turkeys with white-colored feathers are most well-known and broadly raised for meat production.

Uses for Turkey Feathers

Feathers can be so well-supplied, but what are they used for?

Impressively, feathers can be used for various things that likely aren’t believed about right off: Diapers, Insulation, Pillow stuffing, Paper, Upholstery padding, Plastics, and Feather Meal.

But the uses above are perfect for commercial, large quantities of feathers. For the personal use of turkey feathers, several uses and decorations are pretty beautiful, functional, and even historic.

You can apply feathers to make several decorative products such as boas, masks, bird ornaments, costume accessories, feather fans, and even earrings and flowers. They are also regularly used in the making of
fishing flies.

Initially, Turkey feathers were utilized to stabilize arrows and beautify the ceremonial dress. The spurs on the legs of wild tom turkeys were practised on arrowheads as projectiles.

The outfit that “Big Bird” carries on Sesame Street is rumored to be produced from turkey feathers.

Besides, you might be wondering, is it legal to use feathers? Not all birds are illegal. For instance, the feathers of turkeys, chickens, and peacocks are legal.

Characteristics of the Strut

If you’re not a turkey hunter, you may be questioning what a strutting turkey seems like. The strut of these birds consists of five chief characteristics:

  1. The bird will drop down their wings to allow the main wing feathers to reach the ground.
  2. The bird will keep its tail erect and expand its tail feathers to make a fan.
  3. The gobbler will put all the breast and back feathers in a vertical position, making him appear larger.
  4. The head, caruncles and naked skin of a wild turkey may vary from blue to flesh tone or bright red. The bird’s crown is normally completely white.
  5. The bird will draw its neck and head down into an “s” shape and extend the snood (or leader) near the bottom of its beak.

Each of the above characteristics signifies a strut, and during the display, the turkey usually shakes and makes two sounds, a clear “huff” or a deep drumming and spitting sound.


When do they strut?

Contrary to common belief and what looks like 98 percent of each photographed turkey, the birds use a maximum of their time in a non-strutting, relaxed position.

Strutting can and does take place hardly during the year, but is most common prior to the breeding period to determine dominance and pecking order. When the turkeys perform strut, they can do this for some seconds or hours, depending on the situation.

How many feathers does a Turkey have?

A Turkey’s body possesses 5,000 to 6,000 feathers and grows in patterns called feather tracts or pterylae. Wings have ten primary feathers and 17 or 18 secondary feathers. The bird’s tail has an average of 18 large quill feathers.

Turkey feathers have eight shapes that help body covering, flight, display, insulation, waterproofing, protection, and recognition.

Are Turkey feathers waterproof?

Yes, the reason is the uropygial gland located at the base of the tail. It secretes an oily, slippery substance formed of mainly fatty acids that help maintain feathers waterproof and flexible. Birds use their bill to spread the oil to each feather.

Do Turkey feathers carry disease?

Feathers can also be one of the reasons for the spread of viruses. A Turkey’s feather, especially from those residing in urban environments, can frequently play host to various viruses, bacteria, and parasites. However, it is mainly the feathers of a dead bird that carry viruses.

Why do Turkeys fan their feathers?

A Turkey’s fan is a notable feature you’ll notice when a tom struts. It is formed up of 18 tail feathers, 12 to 15 inches long, toms showcase the fans to attract females during the breeding period.

Male Wild Turkeys display their affection for women by drawing out their feathers, dragging their wings, and spreading their tails. This behavior of birds is usually referred to as strutting.


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