social icons

Gatlinburg Weather

Find more about Weather in Gatlinburg, TN
Click for weather forecast

August 17, 2020

Wild Turkeys Alive and Well in Tennessee

Wild turkeys are a common sight in eastern Tennessee.

A male eastern wild turkey spreading his tail feathers on an overcast morning in Cades Cove, Tennessee

At Buckhorn Inn we have two wild turkeys who frequent the area below one of our bird feeders.  We were interested to learn more about them, and thought you might be, too.

According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, http://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/birds, wild turkeys are the largest birds nesting in Tennessee.  These birds were a very important food source to Native Americans and early settlers.  Unfortunately, over-hunting and land clearing reduced the numbers of this species.  Wildlife management techniques have reestablished the birds through their historic range.

The birds are found in mature woodlands or fields.  They eat acorns, nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, buds, fern fronds, and salamanders.  The males begin strutting to attract females in late winter and early spring.  The female, with no help from the male it should be noted, makes a ground nest and lines it with with leaves and grass.  The nest is usually at the base of a tree or bush and hidden by thick vegetation.  The female lays anywhere from 7 to 14 eggs and incubates them for about 28 days.  The young leave the nest soon after hatching.  The male young stay with the female until fall while the females remain with their mother until spring.

Fun Facts about Tennessee Wild Turkeys

  1.  There are approximately 300,000 of the birds in Tennessee.
  2. The average male weighs 16.2 pounds and the female weighs 9.2 pounds.
  3. The male provides no care to the young.
  4. Several females and their broods may form flocks of 30 or more birds.

The birds can be seen throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, most often in the lower elevations.  They roost in trees, so you are less likely to see them in the evening.  Good places to spot them are the open fields near the Sugarlands Visitor Center and the Cades Cove Loop Road.  Or you may just see them hanging around Buckhorn Inn!