The wild turkey, scientifically named meleagris gallopavo, is a North American bird that, as of 2015, makes its home in forests, grasslands and swamps. It is absent in large portions of the Rocky Mountains and parts of the Southwest.
The wild turkey disappeared from much of its range in the early 20th century, mainly due to excessive human activity. Conservation efforts later successfully re-established the bird in its former range. As of 2015, a small number also exist in Hawaii, Europe and New Zealand.
The bird has a body length of 3.6 to 3.8 feet, and a wingspan of 4.1 to 4.8 feet. It weighs from 5.5 to 18.8 pounds and has a lifespan of 3 to 4 years. A group of turkeys is known as a flock.
Turkeys are omnivorous, eating items including fruit, nuts, seeds, insects and lizards. The creatures spend much of their time walking on the ground, scratching away leaf litter with their claws to locate food. They sleep in trees and are able to fly for very short distances.
In the early days of the United States, Benjamin Franklin advocated for the turkey to be the symbol of the United States. The nation chose the bald eagle instead.