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.
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.