Encountering Turkeys at the Wichita Mountains

You might remember my previous post about the abundance of Northern Bobwhites at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Well, it turns out Oklahoma’s refuge isn’t just a haven for those little guys – the Rio Grande Turkeys are thriving there as well!

On my very first day exploring the refuge, I had a lucky encounter. A hen and her poults (baby turkeys) decided to cross the road right in front of me! I managed to snap a few photos of them on the road and then again as they scurried over the rocks nearby.

Turkey Hen and Her Poults Crossing Road
Turkey Hen and Her Poults Crossing Road

Throughout my week-long adventure, these magnificent birds became a regular sight. They’d strut through fields of wildflowers and tall grass, seemingly on a constant hunt for grasshoppers (and making for some great photo ops!).

Turkey Hen and Her Poults On Rocks
Turkey Hen and Her Poults On Rocks

Did you know these aren’t just any turkeys; they’re Rio Grande Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) to be precise. Here’s what makes them stand out:

  • Built for the Open Road (or Refuge): Their long legs and slender bodies are perfectly adapted for traversing the open terrain of the refuge.
  • A Dazzling Display: The Rio Grande’s iridescent copper-bronze plumage is a sight to behold. Add to that their long, reddish legs and snood (that fleshy protuberance on their heads), and you’ve got a truly striking bird.
  • Toms with Flair: The males, also known as gobblers, boast impressive fan-shaped tails they use for a spectacular courtship display.
Rio Grande Tom Turkey Side Profile
Rio Grande Tom Turkey Side Profile

The good news? Seeing these Rio Grande Turkeys at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is a real possibility. Here are some tips to maximize your chances:

  • Golden Hour Glory: Early mornings and late afternoons are prime turkey time. Mornings are especially lively, filled with the sounds of gobbling as they search for breakfast.
  • Prime Locations: Keep your eyes peeled along forest edges, open grassy areas, and near water sources. The refuge’s diverse landscapes offer plenty of spots for potential sightings.
  • Campsite Companions: Keep an eye out around your campsite too! These curious birds aren’t shy about wandering through campgrounds.
Rio Grande Tom Turkey In Parking Lot
Rio Grande Tom Turkey In Parking Lot

The Rio Grande Turkey is a true gem of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, adding to its rich tapestry of wildlife. Whether you’re a bird enthusiast or simply a nature lover, witnessing these magnificent creatures in such a picturesque setting is an experience to remember. So, grab your camera, hit those trails, and see if you can spot some turkeys strutting their stuff in this beautiful Oklahoma refuge!

1 thought on “Encountering Turkeys at the Wichita Mountains”

  1. Now your wild Turkeys are pretty. The little ones are so cute. I have never seen any baby turkeys. Thanks for the post.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.