A) Turkey Tracks
Wild turkeys are large, ground-dwelling birds that have dark feathers with a big fan tail. Their heads are bare of feathers and can be red or blue, changing colors within minutes. A grown wild turkey averages a size of 43-45 inches (approx.. 3.5 feet) while their wingspan can be anywhere from 49-57 inches (4- 4.75 feet) Turkeys usually feed in wooded areas and move into more open areas for mating season, such as fields, pastures, and brush areas, anywhere that is quiet and fairly secluded. Nests are made on the ground, at the base of a tree or shrub, or hidden in tall grass. The males and hens when they are not nesting, roost in trees for the night. Turkey’s feed on a variety of things as they are omnivores. They have been known to eat, hazel, chestnut, hickory, and pinion nuts/acorns, juniper and bearberry berries, roots, insects, snakes, frogs, salamanders, grasses and birdseed.
The wild turkey was important to the Native American’s that roamed through this area. It was eliminated from much of its range by the early 1900’s, but has made a strong comeback over the years, now with a large enough population to have its own hunting season. Fall hunting season lasts from mid-October to early December for Shotgun, while the Archery season lasts from mid-October to early January. Spring hunting season lasts from early April to mid-May for both Shotgun and Archery. For more information on hunting rules, licenses and regulation, please see the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (link in Resources below).
Pheasants are not actually native to North America. They were introduced here in the 1880’s from Asia. They quickly became a popular game bird and are now found all over North America. Pheasants are large birds, much like chickens, with long pointed tails. Males are brightly colored with red heads, green and white neck bands, and coppery tails with black strips. Females are much duller colors, usually shades of brown and grey, to better blend in with their habitat of grasslands or agricultural fields.
Pheasants are omnivores, eating grains, seeds, leaves, roots, wild fruits, nuts, and insects. They usually walk or run and only resort to flying if startled or are in immediate danger. They are usually 20-28 inches long with a wingspan of 22-34 inches for both males and females. One male usually defends a small group of females and runs off other males during breeding season. A hen builds a nest in a depression in tall vegetation and lays 7-15 eggs at a time. When they hatch, the pheasant chicks are capable of following the female and feeding themselves.