In case you ever wondered. The wild turkey is a wide-ranging upland game bird of North America. There are five distinct subspecies of turkey, four of which have been transplanted into California at one time or another. Today the most common subspecies found in California are the Rio Grande and the Merriam’s varieties.
Wild turkeys were first introduced into California on Santa Cruz Island in 1877 by private ranchers. Ranchers released these turkeys into the wild to have a supply of game birds readily available. The fowls were also introduced into the state by The Department of Fish and Wildlife in the early 20th century. Nearly 3,000 were brought into California between 1959 and 1988. Since then the state’s turkey population has ballooned to a quarter-million. Turkey populations grow in suburban areas because food is abundant and because some people enjoy feeding them. We are a good turkey habitat.
So now you know that the wild turkeys we see are descendents of transplants – just like a lot of us! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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