NWTF: Wild Turkeys Come in Weird Colors

You know that turkey-feather colors vary by species and area, but did you know about the rare color variants?

posted on February 21, 2024

When most of us were small, we were taught to draw turkeys by outlining our hands; our thumb became its head, our fingers its outstretched fan. We would then grab the biggest box of crayons and begin coloring them in, ignoring realistic hues in favor of flashy metallics and wild neons. As it turns out, Nature does something very similar every so often ... and although it's recessive genetics wielding the paintbrush, the results are nearly as remarkable as our childhood fancies. 

Of course, should you see a color-variant turkey in the wild while hunting, your first thought may be whether it's okay to harvest it. The short answer to that question seems to be "yes, as long as the bird is otherwise legal." Some hunters might prefer to let such a bird go--doing so will help ensure more color-variant turkeys in the future--but others might leap at the chance to take a truly unique tom turkey trophy. 

In this great video from the National Wild Turkey Federation, you'll learn more about the color variants that Nature sometimes creates from the NWTF's resident expert, "Dr. Tom." If you'd like to check out more interesting turkey facts, NWTF's YouTube channel is here!

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