Encyclopedia Article


The wild turkey is a large bird that is native to the Americas and is common to the U.S. Southwest. It typically nests and forages in woodlands, staying close to the ground, as it cannot fly farther than about a quarter of a mile at a time. Turkeys were sacred in many Native American cultures associated with the U.S. Southwest, the long valley of the Rio Grande, and northern Mexico. Turkeys were appreciated for their "jeweled" fan tails, a display vibrantly-colored tail feathers. They were also valued for their pride, beauty, abundance, and fertility. These characteristics were associated with seasonal harvest festivals, when the bird was often sacrificed as a symbol of renewal, fertility, and longevity in the community.

Photo Credit: 

"Wild turkey, March 28, 2011" by skeeze is licensed under Public Domain.