By Karen Menard
As the leaves fall, chances are good that you may catch a glimpse of wild turkeys strutting around in almost any Metropark.
The photo above was taken at Wildwood Preserve last week. The video below is from a trail cam at Oak Openings Preserve.
Ohio's largest upland gamebird stands 3 to 4 feet tall and is difficult to miss. The males (gobblers) are a bit larger than the females (hens).
Historically, wild turkeys weren't always plentiful in Ohio. Abundant at the time of settlement, turkey populations declined and no birds remained by 1904. After years of reintroduction efforts by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, they now found throughout the state.
Preferring mature forests, but often found in prairies and grasslands, they can be seen or heard wandering across the landscape looking for seeds, nuts, green plants and insects. They produce a variety of interesting sounds, including the male's "gobble" as well as croaks, barks, whines, and purrs.
On your next visit to a Metropark, listen closely for these amusing sounds, as well as the swishing of leaves as they hunt for food. You may even be lucky enough to see one or several in a family flock.