With fall comes some famous holidays that feature a turkey as the main event. As delicious as that might sound, have your kids ever wondered where the turkey comes from? Make these turkey life cycle worksheets part of your fall holiday preparation! And learn more about where our famous fall feathered friend comes from!
Turkeys come in the wild and tame variations, and both are large birds. The domesticated turkey is known for its large, colorful tail feather display, but did you know the wild turkey also has large tail feathers? In fact, because the wild turkey is a longer-legged, leaner version compared to its domesticated cousin, the wild turkey’s tail feather display may be more easily seen.
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What are the stages of a turkey life cycle?
There are four stages to a turkey life style: egg, poult, juvenile and adult.
The egg takes 28 days to hatch. The hen lays her eggs in a depression on the ground that is covered in dead leaves or vegetation from the surrounding area. A hen can lay 4 up to 17 eggs in a clutch.
She only lays one egg per day so can take up to two weeks to finish laying a clutch of eggs.
When an egg hatches it is not a chick, it is called a poult. A poult will stay with its mother to learn to eat and find food. Poults are born ready to run, they must keep up with their flock so that they are not left behind.
Wild turkeys cover a lot of territory when looking for food.
The male turkeys are known as Toms or Gobblers because of the noise they make when trying to attract a mate. They have large tail feathers that they strut around with to make themselves attractive to females. They are larger than the females and have sharp struts on their legs to help them fight.
Hens are smaller and less ornate. They rely on hiding from predators and are less colorful.
Males and females live in their own flocks until the mating season.
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Why do turkeys spread their tail feathers?
Male turkeys, called “toms” or “gobblers” spread their tail feathers to show off to potential mates. Turkeys are related to peacocks, so the tail feathers serve a similar purpose. The more elaborate the display, the better the chances for that particular turkey to find himself a partner! But turkeys don’t mate for life, so female turkeys are left to raise the next generation on their own.
Where do turkeys nest?
Chickens nest in roosts, and ducks nest in the reeds. Turkeys create shallow nests on the ground! When a female turkey, called a “hen” is ready to lay her eggs, sometime in late spring, she digs a shallow hole. It’s not very deep, but it can be up to 10 inches wide, and looks kind of like a dinner plate!
Then she lays her eggs — about 9 to 13 of them at a time, in a “clutch”. She will sit on her eggs for about 28 days.
Recommended Turkey Books for Kids
Find out more about the amazing and surprisingly affectionate turkey with some of our favorite books for kids. With these silly stories, your fall family feast will be a fun frolic.
Turkey TroubleHow to Catch a TurkeyTaylor the Tooting Turkey: A Story About a Turkey Who Toots (Farts) (Farting Adventures)Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks! (Reading Railroad Books)Five Silly TurkeysA Plump and Perky Turkey
Can turkeys fly?
Wild turkeys can fly short distances, and they can run really fast. They can even outrun a galloping horse for a short distance! Wild baby turkeys can’t fly for the first two weeks after they hatch, though, so their mother keeps them in a hidden place on the ground until they can.
Farm turkeys don’t fly or run that fast. After all, we don’t want our farm animals to get away, right? Mother turkeys still try to hide their chicks though, for the first few weeks after they hatch.
What are baby turkeys called?
Baby turkeys are called “poults”. They have soft downy feathers for about 6 weeks after they hatch, until they molt and get adult feathers. Then they’re called “juveniles”, until they’ve grown bigger, and molted a few more times.
Learn more about turkeys, toms, hens and poults with these fun turkey life cycle worksheets!
More Life Cycle Activities
Get more fall-themed life-cycle activities with these great life-cycle packs: