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turkey subspecies in California

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  • Steve Hampton
    I thought this might be of general interest, from the regular DFG Q&A news releases: California Department of Fish and Game News Release Date: April 29, 2010
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 29, 2010
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      I thought this might be of general interest, from the regular DFG Q&A
      news releases:



      California Department of Fish and Game News Release

      Date: April 29, 2010

      Contact: Carrie Wilson, Communications Office, CalOutdoors@...

      ** Photos and all archived columns:
      http://californiaoutdoors.wordpress.com/**


      California Outdoors Q&As

      Do wild turkeys hybridize?

      Question: While hunting turkey on a private ranch, my hunting partner
      killed a large tom turkey that had white feathers on his rump and tail
      and was very black in color. This leads me to believe it is a Merriam’s.
      We hunt above Lake Sonoma in Sonoma County and don’t believe this is
      their normal range. We see a lot of Rios on the property but have never
      seen Merriam’s. The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) lists
      Merriam’s in numerous counties in California. If the Department of
      Fish and Game (DFG) planted them at Lake Sonoma, will they interbreed
      with the Rios and form a crossbreed? Thanks. (Mike B., Brentwood)

      Answer: There are two species of wild turkeys in the world, only one of
      which (Meleagris gallopavo) lives in the United States. This species is
      broken into five subspecies - Eastern, Osceola, Rio Grande, Merriam’s
      and Gould’s.

      In an attempt to determine which subspecies was better suited for
      California's habitats, DFG released three of the five subspecies (Rios,
      Merriam's and Easterns) and an Eastern/Rio hybrid into different areas
      of the state. Based on the 2004 Wild Turkey Strategic Plan, and
      according to DFG Wild Turkey Biologist Scott Gardner, there has never
      been a release of Merriam's in Sonoma County. Only Rios have been
      released in Sonoma County. The closest Merriam's release was northern
      Mendocino County.

      According to NWTF biologist Ryan Mathis, people frequently ask if their
      turkeys are wild/domestic hybrids. He says it’s possible, but unlikely.
      Natural color abnormalities often occur among birds and so people will
      confuse these characteristics with those of a wild/domestic hybrid.
      Color abnormalities that occur in wild turkeys include black
      (melanistic), red (erythritic), white (albinotic) and the most commonly
      reported, “smoke gray phase,” which is an incomplete albino. Mathis has
      seen the smoke gray and the erythritic phases in Sonoma County, but
      after viewing the photo you sent, he says the bird in question is
      neither of these. He says you have a Rio Grande.

      Plumage coloration of a single subspecies varies wildly among wild
      turkeys from different areas within their range. The retrix tips (the
      band of color on the tail feathers) of Rio Grandes range from cinnamon
      to buff, and the tips of Merriam's range from buff to pinkish-white.
      Body feathers on Rio Grandes range from copper to greenish gold, and
      Merriam's are a purplish-bronze. Turkeys with a copper appearance are a
      dead giveaway, so what you’ve got is a Rio.

      For more information and facts on wild turkeys, please visit
      www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/uplandgame/ or www.nwtf.org/.

      Steve Hampton
      ________________
      Resource Economist
      Office of Spill Prevention and Response
      California Dept of Fish and Game
      PO Box 944209
      Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
      -----------------------------------
      (916) 323-4724 phone
      (916) 324-8829 fax
    • Ken Burton
      While the discussion of California turkey taxonomy is academically of some potential interest, I feel compelled to express my opinion, shared by MANY, that
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 29, 2010
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        While the discussion of California turkey taxonomy is academically of
        some potential interest, I feel compelled to express my opinion, shared
        by MANY, that DFG's introduction of turkeys into California was
        absolutely inexcusable, especially at a time at which the supposed
        evolution of our understanding of the havoc wreaked by exotic species
        should have been far more advanced. The Department should be ashamed of
        itself (many of us are certainly ashamed of it) and those responsible
        should be held accountable for the damage they have caused to native
        wildlife and plant communities and personal property.

        Ken Burton
        Arcata

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Steve Hampton" <shampton@...>
        To: <CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, April 29, 2010 11:26 AM
        Subject: [CALBIRDS] turkey subspecies in California


        >I thought this might be of general interest, from the regular DFG Q&A
        > news releases:
        >
        >
        >
        > California Department of Fish and Game News Release
        >
        > Date: April 29, 2010
        >
        > Contact: Carrie Wilson, Communications Office, CalOutdoors@...
        >
        > ** Photos and all archived columns:
        > http://californiaoutdoors.wordpress.com/**
        >
        >
        > California Outdoors Q&As
        >
        > Do wild turkeys hybridize?
        >
        > Question: While hunting turkey on a private ranch, my hunting partner
        > killed a large tom turkey that had white feathers on his rump and tail
        > and was very black in color. This leads me to believe it is a Merriam’s.
        > We hunt above Lake Sonoma in Sonoma County and don’t believe this is
        > their normal range. We see a lot of Rios on the property but have
        > never
        > seen Merriam’s. The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) lists
        > Merriam’s in numerous counties in California. If the Department of
        > Fish and Game (DFG) planted them at Lake Sonoma, will they interbreed
        > with the Rios and form a crossbreed? Thanks. (Mike B., Brentwood)
        >
        > Answer: There are two species of wild turkeys in the world, only one
        > of
        > which (Meleagris gallopavo) lives in the United States. This species
        > is
        > broken into five subspecies - Eastern, Osceola, Rio Grande, Merriam’s
        > and Gould’s.
        >
        > In an attempt to determine which subspecies was better suited for
        > California's habitats, DFG released three of the five subspecies
        > (Rios,
        > Merriam's and Easterns) and an Eastern/Rio hybrid into different areas
        > of the state. Based on the 2004 Wild Turkey Strategic Plan, and
        > according to DFG Wild Turkey Biologist Scott Gardner, there has never
        > been a release of Merriam's in Sonoma County. Only Rios have been
        > released in Sonoma County. The closest Merriam's release was northern
        > Mendocino County.
        >
        > According to NWTF biologist Ryan Mathis, people frequently ask if
        > their
        > turkeys are wild/domestic hybrids. He says it’s possible, but
        > unlikely.
        > Natural color abnormalities often occur among birds and so people will
        > confuse these characteristics with those of a wild/domestic hybrid.
        > Color abnormalities that occur in wild turkeys include black
        > (melanistic), red (erythritic), white (albinotic) and the most
        > commonly
        > reported, “smoke gray phase,” which is an incomplete albino. Mathis
        > has
        > seen the smoke gray and the erythritic phases in Sonoma County, but
        > after viewing the photo you sent, he says the bird in question is
        > neither of these. He says you have a Rio Grande.
        >
        > Plumage coloration of a single subspecies varies wildly among wild
        > turkeys from different areas within their range. The retrix tips (the
        > band of color on the tail feathers) of Rio Grandes range from cinnamon
        > to buff, and the tips of Merriam's range from buff to pinkish-white.
        > Body feathers on Rio Grandes range from copper to greenish gold, and
        > Merriam's are a purplish-bronze. Turkeys with a copper appearance are
        > a
        > dead giveaway, so what you’ve got is a Rio.
        >
        > For more information and facts on wild turkeys, please visit
        > www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/uplandgame/ or www.nwtf.org/.
        >
        > Steve Hampton
        > ________________
        > Resource Economist
        > Office of Spill Prevention and Response
        > California Dept of Fish and Game
        > PO Box 944209
        > Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
        > -----------------------------------
        > (916) 323-4724 phone
        > (916) 324-8829 fax
        >
      • debbieviess
        Other than that...cool birds: beautiful plumage, interesting behaviors, kinda ugly neck skin. Highly adaptive, too, apparently. Not their fault that they got
        Message 3 of 3 , May 7, 2010
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          Other than that...cool birds: beautiful plumage, interesting behaviors, kinda ugly neck skin. Highly adaptive, too, apparently. Not their fault that they got moved around by those darned interfering humans. Heck, even the Anasazai of the SW domesticated them (and made clothing from their feathers!). As far as nasty, ecosystem destroying intros, turkeys take a far back seat to the feral pigs, my fave eco-bugaboo.

          But is this list really about the blame game? Humans do stupid things every day, all over the world. Actions have consequences, but not always ones that you can forsee. Turkeys are popular and delicious game birds, and the FWS sees from a hunters not ecologist's perspective.

          How 'bout them Canada geese? They self-introduced to our parks and golf courses and lakes...and have become pests as well.

          Where do we draw the line? They're here, they're birds, they are part of our world, like it or not. May as well enjoy them as we can.

          Debbie Viess
          Oakland, CA

          --- In CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com, "Ken Burton" <brdnrd@...> wrote:
          >
          > While the discussion of California turkey taxonomy is academically of
          > some potential interest, I feel compelled to express my opinion, shared
          > by MANY, that DFG's introduction of turkeys into California was
          > absolutely inexcusable, especially at a time at which the supposed
          > evolution of our understanding of the havoc wreaked by exotic species
          > should have been far more advanced. The Department should be ashamed of
          > itself (many of us are certainly ashamed of it) and those responsible
          > should be held accountable for the damage they have caused to native
          > wildlife and plant communities and personal property.
          >
          > Ken Burton
          > Arcata
          >
          > ----- Original Message -----
          > From: "Steve Hampton" <shampton@...>
          > To: <CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>
          > Sent: Thursday, April 29, 2010 11:26 AM
          > Subject: [CALBIRDS] turkey subspecies in California
          >
          >
          > >I thought this might be of general interest, from the regular DFG Q&A
          > > news releases:
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > California Department of Fish and Game News Release
          > >
          > > Date: April 29, 2010
          > >
          > > Contact: Carrie Wilson, Communications Office, CalOutdoors@...
          > >
          > > ** Photos and all archived columns:
          > > http://californiaoutdoors.wordpress.com/**
          > >
          > >
          > > California Outdoors Q&As
          > >
          > > Do wild turkeys hybridize?
          > >
          > > Question: While hunting turkey on a private ranch, my hunting partner
          > > killed a large tom turkey that had white feathers on his rump and tail
          > > and was very black in color. This leads me to believe it is a Merriam’s.
          > > We hunt above Lake Sonoma in Sonoma County and don’t believe this is
          > > their normal range. We see a lot of Rios on the property but have
          > > never
          > > seen Merriam’s. The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) lists
          > > Merriam’s in numerous counties in California. If the Department of
          > > Fish and Game (DFG) planted them at Lake Sonoma, will they interbreed
          > > with the Rios and form a crossbreed? Thanks. (Mike B., Brentwood)
          > >
          > > Answer: There are two species of wild turkeys in the world, only one
          > > of
          > > which (Meleagris gallopavo) lives in the United States. This species
          > > is
          > > broken into five subspecies - Eastern, Osceola, Rio Grande, Merriam’s
          > > and Gould’s.
          > >
          > > In an attempt to determine which subspecies was better suited for
          > > California's habitats, DFG released three of the five subspecies
          > > (Rios,
          > > Merriam's and Easterns) and an Eastern/Rio hybrid into different areas
          > > of the state. Based on the 2004 Wild Turkey Strategic Plan, and
          > > according to DFG Wild Turkey Biologist Scott Gardner, there has never
          > > been a release of Merriam's in Sonoma County. Only Rios have been
          > > released in Sonoma County. The closest Merriam's release was northern
          > > Mendocino County.
          > >
          > > According to NWTF biologist Ryan Mathis, people frequently ask if
          > > their
          > > turkeys are wild/domestic hybrids. He says it’s possible, but
          > > unlikely.
          > > Natural color abnormalities often occur among birds and so people will
          > > confuse these characteristics with those of a wild/domestic hybrid.
          > > Color abnormalities that occur in wild turkeys include black
          > > (melanistic), red (erythritic), white (albinotic) and the most
          > > commonly
          > > reported, “smoke gray phase,” which is an incomplete albino. Mathis
          > > has
          > > seen the smoke gray and the erythritic phases in Sonoma County, but
          > > after viewing the photo you sent, he says the bird in question is
          > > neither of these. He says you have a Rio Grande.
          > >
          > > Plumage coloration of a single subspecies varies wildly among wild
          > > turkeys from different areas within their range. The retrix tips (the
          > > band of color on the tail feathers) of Rio Grandes range from cinnamon
          > > to buff, and the tips of Merriam's range from buff to pinkish-white.
          > > Body feathers on Rio Grandes range from copper to greenish gold, and
          > > Merriam's are a purplish-bronze. Turkeys with a copper appearance are
          > > a
          > > dead giveaway, so what you’ve got is a Rio.
          > >
          > > For more information and facts on wild turkeys, please visit
          > > www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/uplandgame/ or www.nwtf.org/.
          > >
          > > Steve Hampton
          > > ________________
          > > Resource Economist
          > > Office of Spill Prevention and Response
          > > California Dept of Fish and Game
          > > PO Box 944209
          > > Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
          > > -----------------------------------
          > > (916) 323-4724 phone
          > > (916) 324-8829 fax
          > >
          >
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