Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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WORLD BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Wild Turkey
 
 

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Species Acct.
Loons
Grebes
Procellarids
Pelicans
Herons
Ibises
Storks
Vultures
Flamingos
Waterfowl
Raptors
Turkeys
Quail
Rails
Limpkin
Cranes
Shorebirds
Gulls
Terns
Auks
Doves
Parrots
Cuckoos
Owls
Goatsuckers
Swifts
Hummers
Kingfishers
Woodpckrs
Flycatchers
Shrikes
Vireos
Crows/Jays
Larks
Swallows
Tits
Nuthatches
Creepers
Wrens
Kinglets
Gnatcatchers
Thrushes
Mimids
Starlings
Pipits
Waxwings
NW Warblers
Tanagers
NWSparrows
Cardinalines
Icterids
Finches
OWSparrows

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  Order Galliformes - Galli
   Family Phasianidae - Pheasants, Partridges, Quail, Grouse, Turkeys,
         Guineafowl
      Subfamily Meleagridinae - Turkeys

  Fowl-like Birds are generalized and widespread. They include terrestrial and arboreal birds with a large aftershaft, a large crop, and a muscular gizzard. Young are downy and rapidly become independent. Sibley and Ahlquist (1990) place this group at the beginning of the modern non-passerines with a keel on the sternum.
Pheasants are chicken-like terrestrial birds of variable size with broad short wings. Many have a spur on their legs and males may be brightly colored.
Turkeys are large galli. Males have erectile caruncles and tarsal spurs. Their tail is long. 
     
     
  Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallapavo
 
  Cornell    USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        YEAR-ROUND - Uncommon / Occasional? Rare?
            OPEN WOODS, FIELDS
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   The Wild Turkey is one of our largest birds. It is social, forming flocks in open woods with fields or clearings - especially in oak or beech woods. They are large and dark with a thin neck, small head, and long legs. They wings are broad and they fly well although they are usually seen foraging on the ground. Males spread their tail, droop their wings, and vocalize as they display.
Wild Turkey
 
     
Wild Turkey hen. Kiawah Island. February
© Kiawah Island Wildlife
   
  RANGE: Widely distributed across almost all of the United States from the East Coast west to the Rockies and Texas Gulf Coast. There are northwestern and central California populations and the turkey is found in central Mexico. It is a common breeding bird and resident in open wooded areas with fields or clearings (especially oak and beech woods) throughout the coastal plain
  BREEDING: Polygynous. One brood. Like many gallinaceous birds, males display (often communally). The display includes a spread tail, drooped wings, and erect head with the familiar "gobble - gobble" vocalization. Females select their mate from those displaying, copulate, and then take care of the remaining reproductive activities by herself.
   Females build a nest on the ground in grass or shrubs and lay 10-15 (4-18) eggs which are incubated 25-31 days. Young turkeys are precocial. The young leave the nest soon after hatching. They are brooded for several weeks and can make short flights at 1-2 weeks. They are cared for by the female for about 4 weeks.
   Turkeys fly well and roost in trees at night. Winter flocks may contain 50 or more birds which forage together.
  DIET: Turkeys feed on seeds and nuts (acorns - up to 60% of their diet), fruit, leaves, and insects (especially grasshoppers). They forage by walking on the ground or scratching in litter to expose food. They are more likely to be seen feeding early or late in the day.
   It may be of interest that the Wild Turkey nearly became our national bird (rather than the thieving, carrion-eating Bald Eagle) - It lost by one vote in congress!
  VOICE: Familiar gobble. Both sexes have a variety of soft clucks and rolling calls.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Kiawah - rare year-round.
      Coastal - fairly common permanent resident. Hilton Head - uncommon permanent resident. Cape Romain - common year-round, breeds.
      Caw Caw - uncommon, year-round. ACE - common year-round, breeds.
   CBC: ACE 7, 80, 46, 88, 48, 62, 47, 80; Charleston 0, 12, 10, 0, 12, 11, 8, 9;
            St. Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 0, 6; Hilton Head 9, 29, 11, 4, 0, 3, 15, 13; Sun City/Okatie 0, 4, 3, 7, 0, 17, 3, 8;
            McClellanville 6, 25, 12, 11, nc, 8, 19, 6; Winyah Bay x, x, 19, 18, 9, 11, 11, 20; Litchfield/Pawley's 26, 15, 68, 36, 28, 53, 15, 37.
   SCBBA: Throughout the state - all coastal counties.
   P&G: Resident, common on coastal plain. Egg dates: 3 March - 11 May.
   M&P: Introductions over the last 40 years have reestablished turkeys in many areas. In the past 10 years, populations have more than doubled.
   Potter: Formerly permanent residents across the Carolinas, Wild Turkeys were largely extirpated but are now expanding their range and increasing in numbers.
  ●  Occasional but regular? Wild Turkeys are not on the Seabrook Island list. Although they are included on the Kiawah list, turkeys are unlikely successful residents on either island. On both Seabrook and Kiawah, the open oak woodland frequented by turkeys is largely absent and the dense understory of the maritime forest is not great habitat. The numbers of foxes and bobcats plus the intensity of development on both islands would make their survival difficult.
   Tthere was a picture of two Wild Turkeys alongside what appears to be a Seabrook Island road on the old POA Website taken on August 29, 1999. There is also a sighting reported to the Wildlife Committee of a turkey grazing around the cart path near the second hole of Crooked Oaks on April 15, 2008. Marcia Hider reports one toward the end of Privateer Road in April 2008. A hen was seen and photographed on the 14th T box during the Audubon Golf Course count in April 2013 (see MORE PICTURES). According to David Gardner, several may be found around Camp St. Christopher on occassion.In 2014 we saw one crossing Bohickt Road between the Gate House and marina. Thus, turkeys may be releatively regular on the island?Turkeys should probably be on our list as occasional visitors...(rare year round?)
       
    Banner - Wild (?) Turkey, Oak Openings, OH
       
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KEY:    ■ Seabrook list     □ Kiawah list