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Rio Grande Wild Turkey

Rio Turkey in field.

The Rio Grande wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) is native to the central plains states and got its common name from the area in which it is found - the life giving water supply which borders the brushy scrub, arid country of the southern Great Plains, western Texas and northeastern Mexico. 

Adult male: Gobbler or tom

Height and Weight: 4 ft. tall, but with disproportionately long legs and weighing more than 20 lbs.

Coloring: The Rio Grande turkeys are comparatively pale and copper colored. They are distinguished from the eastern and Florida subspecies by having tail feathers and tail/rump coverts tipped with yellowish-buff or tan color rather than medium or dark brown. Although there has been more variation in the shade of buff/brown in the tail feathers among Rio specimens, the color is consistently lighter than in the eastern or Florida birds and darker than the same feathers in the Merriam's or Gould's subspecies.

Adult female: Hen

Height and Weight: Almost as tall as the tom but weighing between 8-12 lbs.

Coloring: Similar in color but duller. Feathers of the breast, sides and flanks are tipped with pale pinkish buff.

Preferred habitat: The Rio inhabits brush areas near streams and rivers or mesquite, pine and scrub oak forests. It may be found up to 6,000 feet elevation and generally favors country that is more open than the wooded habitat favored by its eastern cousins. The Rio Grande is considered gregarious and, nomadic in some areas, having distinct summer and winter ranges. They may form large flocks of several hundred birds during the winter period. It has been known to travel distances of 10 or more miles from traditional winter roost sites to its nesting areas.