6 Kinds of Turkeys (With Pictures)

There are six different species of turkey out there, all found in the Western Hemisphere. Whether you’re birdwatching or hunting, you’ll need to know a little about each species and where to look if you plan to find one.

That’s why we break down each of the six species here and give you enough information to track one down and find it in the wild!

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6 types of turkeys are:

1. Eastern Wild Turkey

Eastern wild turkey

The Eastern Wild Turkey is by far the most densely populated turkey species on the planet. There are over 5 million birds, and they have a wide range that includes all of the Eastern States and many Canadian provinces.

These birds have brown tail feathers with chestnut brown tips, and they have white and black stripes along their wings. They are famous for devouring and have long beards.

Eastern Wild Turkeys can grow up to 4 feet tall, and males can weigh up to 30 pounds! Females are slightly smaller, up to 12 pounds.


2. Osceola Wild Turkey

Osceola Wild Turkey Group

While the Osceola Wild Turkeys don’t have a very large range, where they roam, they do so by force.

The Osceola Wild Turkey lives only on the Florida peninsula, but in that area, there are about 100,000 birds. The Osceola Wild Turkey is smaller than the Eastern Wild Turkey, with males up to 20 pounds.

They have far less white bands than the Eastern Wild Turkey, and they have black wings, with a dark brown tip on the tail feathers.

Lastly, these birds have long legs, strong gluttons, and short beards. They are very difficult to hunt, despite their large population in a small area.

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3. Rio Grande Wild Turkey

Rio Grande Wild Turkey

True to its name, you can see the Rio Grande Wild Turkeys in most of the Western and Southern states. They have large populations in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Mexico.

The Rio Grande Wild Turkey is about the same size as the Osceola Wild Turkey, with males up to 20 pounds. The Rio Grande Wild Turkey has an equal number of black and white borders on its wings, and the tips of its tail feathers are brown instead of a darker brown.

Their body feathers often have a green hue, making them one of the most beautiful wild turkeys out there. Currently, their population was just over 1 million birds, so there was no shortage of the Rio Grande Wild Turkeys!


4. Merriam Wild Turkey

Merriam's Meriam's Wild Turkey

If you go west into the Rocky Mountains and see a turkey, you’re most likely looking at Merriam’s Wild Turkey. Merriam Wild Turkeys have white tipped tail feathers and white lower back feathers, distinguishing them from other wild turkeys.

Not only do they roam the Rockies, but you can also find them in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and parts of New Mexico.

This turkey is similar in size to the Eastern Wild Turkey, with males weighing nearly 30 pounds. However, they do not devour as hard, and their beards are very short. Currently, there are only less than 350,000 of these birds in the wild.

Read Related: What Do Turkeys Eat in the Wild and As Pets?


5. Gould Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Gould Turkey Male

The only turkey you can find in the United States but cannot be hunted is Gould’s Wild Turkey. These turkeys are rare, and you can only find them in Arizona, New Mexico, and Northern Mexico.

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Like the Eastern Wild Turkey, they are larger, with males reaching up to 30 pounds. Wild Gould Turkeys have long legs, like the Osceola Wild Turkeys, but they have a white-tipped tail and back feathers.

The easiest way to tell this bird from Merriam’s Wild Turkeys is to look at its feet. The Wild Gould Turkey has large legs, while the Merriam Wild Turkey has thin legs.

Lastly, the Wild Gould Turkey has copper and greenish-gold plumage all over its body, giving it an overall lighter appearance than most turkeys.

If you’re hunting turkeys in Arizona, New Mexico, or Northern Mexico, you’ll need to learn to identify these birds so you don’t accidentally shoot them.

  • See Also: Do ​​Turkeys Make Great Pets? What you need to know!

6. Ocellated Wild Turkey

Ocellated Turkey

The Ocellated Wild Turkey is without a doubt an outlier among wild turkeys. They only live in an area of ​​50,000 square miles in southern Mexico, northern Belize, and northern Guatemala.

They have rainbow plumage with gray tail feathers that have blue and gold tips. Their wings are white and black, and they have high-pitched gobbles and produce a hollow drum sound. In addition, these birds do not have beards, and they are much smaller than their northern relatives.

The maximum male is 12 pounds, which is the size of the female of every other subspecies. They are very different from other turkey subspecies, but that is part of the reason why finding one in the wild is such a joy.

You may also be interested in: Male vs Female Turkeys: How To Tell The Difference

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Final Thoughts

If you go hunting, we recommend studying these different subspecies. Whether you’re just looking to impress your hunting buddies or don’t want to shoot the wrong bird, having a solid understanding of what’s out there and what you’re hunting is always a great place to start!


Featured Image Credit: create219, Pixabay

6 Kinds of Turkeys (With Pictures)
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