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Introduction to the Osceola Wild Turkey - Meleagris gallapovo osceola


The Florida (aka Osceola) Wild Turkey, meleagris gallopavo osceola, was named after a famous Seminole Indian Chief of the early 1800's by W.E.D. Scott in his 1890 description of the bird. They are a unique and highly sought after subspecies of the wild turkey since they are found only on the Florida peninsula. There are approximately 80,000 Osceola turkeys roaming the southern portions of Florida today.


The Osceola turkey is the smallest and one of the most challenging subspecies of turkey to hunt. A mature tom turkey will only weigh 16 - 18 pounds in his peak breeding state but makes up for the lower weight with longer spurs and beards on average than the other subspecies. The Osceola subspecies is similar in feather markings to the Eastern except that black predominates in the wing barring of the primary wing feathers. Feathers of the Florida turkey show more iridescent green and red colors, with less bronze than the eastern. The dark color of the tail coverts and the large tail feathers tipped in brown are similar to the eastern, but unlike the lighter colors of the three western subspecies. Its colorations and behavior are ideal for the flat pine woods, oak and palmetto hammocks and swamp habitats of Florida. Adult females, or hens, are similar to the males but duller and lighter colored throughout, except wing feathers, which are darker.

The reproductive cycle for the Florida wild turkey begins only slightly earlier than for the eastern wild turkey in other southern states. However, in southern Florida, turkeys gobble during warm spells in January, several weeks before actual mating. Egg laying is mainly in April with the cycle complete with peak hatching occurring in May.

Range and Habitat

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) only recognizes birds as Osceolas if they are taken south of a line drawn between Taylor and Dixie counties on the Gulf to a line running between Nassau and Duval counties on the Atlantic coast.


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