New Jersey’s Wild Turkeys, Meleagris gallopavo

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Flocks of wild turkeys are a common sight in southern New Jersey. It’s a relatively new phenomenon and it’s fabulous to see them! There were no wild turkeys in the state between 1850 and about 1950. The historically abundant birds were locally extinct.

It is thought that some wild turkeys from Pennsylvania may have colonized New Jersey around 1950. Then in 1977, state game managers introduced 22 wild turkeys. The flock prospered and grew enough so that two years later some of the turkeys could be captured and relocated to establish new populations. The introductions were spectacularly successful! There are over 20,000 turkeys in New Jersey now. We see them by the road sides, in backyards, in the woods, in empty lots, and walking among the spring crops.

Read about more New Jersey/New York wildlife in my blog, the Urban Wildlife Guide.

And in my book, Field Guide to Urban Wildlife.

Thanks for reading! Julie 🙂

Julie Feinstein

Julie Feinstein

I am a Collection Manager at the American Museum of Natural History, an author, and a photographer. I live in New York City. I recently published my first popular science book, Field Guide to Urban Wildlife, an illustrated collection of natural history essays about common animals. I update my blog, Urban Wildlife Guide, every Sunday.

Julie Feinstein

Julie Feinstein

I am a Collection Manager at the American Museum of Natural History, an author, and a photographer. I live in New York City. I recently published my first popular science book, Field Guide to Urban Wildlife, an illustrated collection of natural history essays about common animals. I update my blog, Urban Wildlife Guide, every Sunday.

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Carol Duke
Carol Duke

Wonderful photographs of these beautiful and important birds Julie. Thankfully they are also abundant here in Western Massachusetts. 

Glenn Bartley

Julie, Interesting article and great shots – is this species protected by law or are people allowed to shoot them?

Steven Scott

Great photos and post.  Turkeys are a very adaptable species.  We have them here in Florida and also at our summer place in Maine.  If they are not over-hunted, they will thrive.