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Importance of Wild Turkey’s Feet

This Turkey Tuesday is about a part of wild turkeys that is often overlooked – their feet. If you think about it, a wild turkey’s feet are an incredibly important part of their anatomy. Wild turkeys don’t actually walk on their feet, but rather, they walk on their toes. They also use those toes to run away from danger, forage for prey items, and secure themselves to roost sites and other places when they perch above ground – toms even use their feet when fighting to establish dominance. In reality, wild turkeys spend almost all of their time both day and night on their feet! Interestingly, foot and toe injuries and oddities often befall individual birds and if you’re a turkey hunter, you may have encountered a bird that sported them. If you look closely at the toms in this picture, you’ll note that the one on top has a broken toe, and both are bloodied up from fighting – presumably owing at least partially to them fighting through a wire fence. Regardless, it’s not uncommon to run across toms that have missing toes (2nd pic), toes that are shorter than others and lacking a toenail (3rd pic), swollen toes, or even abscesses on their feet (4th pic). The take home is, the wild turkey’s ability to deal with injuries and oddities to their feet is yet another demonstration of how tough and resilient they are as a species.

Pic of toms by Nancy Lee.

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