Merriam's Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

Merriam's turkey


  • Male body length ranges from 122 to 127 centimetres (48 to 50 inches).
  • Female body length ranges from 89 to 94 centimetres (35 to 37 inches).


  • General distinguishing features include:
    • featherless head and legs
    • dark glossy body plumage
    • copper-coloured tail with light tip
  • Male turkeys have a long central breast tuft, a red-blue head, and red wattles.
  • Female turkeys have a blue-grey head and are less colourful overall.
  • Merriam's or wild turkeys are native North American birds, but Alberta is well beyond their natural range.
  • Successful introduction of this species has been made to the Cypress Hills and Porcupine Hills in southern Alberta.
Natural History


  • This species requires extensive tracts of forest with dense vegetation and small clearings.


  • Diet includes grass, leaves and seeds.
Conservation and Management


Merriam's turkeys are classified as Exotic/Alien in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Current management


A limited number of special licenses are issued only to resident hunters through a draw. Specific season information is provided in the current Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My Wild Alberta website at:


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Posted: Apr 7, 2009