I never saw a wild turkey in Iowa when I was young. I have still never seen a wild turkey in Iowa though they are reported to be common once more in many places in the state, places where there are woodlands. Wild turkeys have become so numerous in Iowa that some have been trapped in Iowa, transported and released in Indiana, some in Huntington County and I was there and saw them released.
The first wild turkey I ever saw was in Indiana but it wasn’t one of those that had been trapped and moved from Iowa. I don’t know where that bird came from. I saw it in Jasper County soon after I moved to Indiana.
The wild turkey is an American conservation success story. Too much hunting, over hunting if you will, and clearing forests reduced its numbers until it appeared to be going the way of the passenger pigeon. Then came limits on hunting and in many areas complete protection. There was reestablishment of habitat. Then there was trap and release, catching wild turkeys where they still existed, transporting them and releasing them in suitable habitat where they did not exist, at first in their original range, later in places where there had not previously been wild turkeys. Today there are wild turkeys in North Dakota as well as South Dakota, in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California.
The American wild turkey is now also a bird of Europe. It was first introduced in Spain more than 200 years ago. Those birds were captured in Mexico, not the U.S. Since those first introductions in Spain, turkeys have been introduced and established in France, Germany, England and other European countries.
But it’s turkeys in a park in Indiana that interest me presently. Did one there actually call cluck, cluck? Reading in my bird books I found that every author described their call as gobbling or gobble, gobble. But Roger Tory Peterson wrote that turkeys also say pit or put-put and keow, keow. David Sibley wrote that a male gobbled while a female gave a loud sharp iike, iike, iike while Kenn Kaufman described the call as a loud gobbling. Also low clucks!