Let’s Talk Turkey About Wild Turkeys In A West Desert Canyon

/, Stansbury Mountains, Tooele County, Utah, West Desert, Wild Turkeys/Let’s Talk Turkey About Wild Turkeys In A West Desert Canyon
Wild Turkey in a canyon

Wild Turkey in a canyon – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light

I photographed a small flock of Wild Turkeys yesterday in the West Desert of Utah, specifically in a canyon of the Stansbury Mountains. I just never know when turkeys will show up and I am glad they did yesterday because I didn’t photograph many other birds.   Allaboutbirds.org doesn’t show them as year round residents in this area on their range map or in other areas of northern Utah where I find them but I know they are here because I see them all year round.

Did you know…

That the English name for Wild Turkeys may be what it is because shipping routes passed through the country of Turkey while on their way to deliver Wild Turkeys to European markets?

That male Wild Turkeys have nothing to do with parental care?

Or that Wild Turkeys can swim by tucking their wings close to their bodies, spreading their tails and using their feet to kick through the water?

That male Wild Turkeys can weigh more than 16 pounds and have a wingspan of 64 inches?

And that Wild Turkey chicks can fly just a few days after hatching?

Just click one of the six images below to start a slide show of some of the turkeys I photographed yesterday morning.

I believe that most of the Wild Turkeys I photographed yesterday morning where hens and some of the young from this year. I sure didn’t see any beards on the birds I photographed.

The turkeys were foraging on both sides of the gravel road and they crossed over the road several times. Before they took off they exhibited some behavior I had never seen before where they flew up onto the tops of some fruit bearing bushes and fed on the fruit while balancing precariously on the thin branches, it was kind of funny to watch these large birds trying to stay upright on such skinny branches. Unfortunately they were in heavy shade at that point and none of my images came out well enough to share.

Two Wild Turkeys in the Stansbury Mountains, West Desert, Tooele County, Utah

Two Wild Turkeys in the Stansbury Mountains – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light

It was exciting to photograph these large upland game birds yesterday morning and I took so many photos of them that I’ll need to spend at least an hour going through them all but who cares? I don’t.

Life is good.


All images were taken using my Nikon D500 with the 500mm VR lens attached at ISO 640, my shutter speeds varied. 

Wild Turkey facts:

  • The Wild Turkey is North America’s largest native upland game bird. Males can weigh in excess of 25 pounds or more.
  • Unlike their domesticated counterparts wild turkeys are agile in flight. They fly up into trees at night to roost in safety from ground predators.
  • Wild Turkey hens lay between 8 to 20 eggs in a brood. The incubation period is 27-28 days. Only the females care for the young, also called poults.
  • Males display during the breeding season to attract hens.
  • A group of Wild Turkeys can be called a “crop”, “gang”, “dole”, “posse” and “raffle”.
  • Wild Turkeys are resident throughout much of the continental U.S. to extreme southern Canada and south to inland Mexico. They inhabit oak and pine forests and in the west they can be found in forests containing juniper and pine.
  • Wild Turkeys are omnivorous, they consume nuts, acorns, berries, grains, roots and insects. They will also eat small reptiles.
  • Wild Turkeys live up to 9 years.


  1. Elephants Child September 12, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    You see (and document) some wonderful things. Thank you.

  2. Patty Chadwick September 12, 2018 at 10:57 am

    Just this morning (!!!), I, reluctantly and sadly, finished Wildlife naturalist and wonderful wildlife artist, Joe Hutton’s book, ILLUMINATION IN THE FLAT WOODS, A season with the wild turkey–which chronicles his imprinting of two seperate batches of wild turkeys in the flatwoods of northern Florida..it is a delightful read, a mixture of scientific observation, art, humor, love, and above all, respect for these amazing birds. Get it, read it, learn from it, enjoy it!(I know you will)…

  3. Liz Cormack September 12, 2018 at 8:36 am

    I haven’t seen as many Wild Turkeys this year as I have other years in the Niagara Peninsula. Sad.

  4. Glen Fox September 12, 2018 at 8:23 am

    Turkeys have moved North in Canada and are now found in Algonquin Park north of Ottawa, so into the Boreal Forest. They are very adaptable and tough birds.

  5. Bob mcpherson September 12, 2018 at 6:54 am

    Gorgeous photos and dialogue, Mia we occasionally spot them at Palo Duro Canyon

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