Before we get into the activity, did you know we have wild turkeys in Ohio? The wild turkey is Ohio’s largest upland game bird, standing three to four feet tall and weighing up to 24 pounds. It has a slim build, long neck, and nearly featherless head. The body feathers appear drab brown at a distance, but are actually iridescent when the bird appears in good light; this iridescence gives the bird its true coloration--bronze with hints of red, green, copper, and gold. Wild turkeys are very adaptable animals. Although they prefer mature forests, with substantial cover and suitable food sources, they can live successfully in areas with as little as 15 percent forest cover. The feeding area should include a mix of forbs, grasses, and insects. Wild turkeys make a variety of sounds, including a male’s gobble, the hen’s yelp, a poult’s peep, an alarm call that sounds like putt, and an assortment of purrs, trills, croaks, whines, and barks. The best known of these vocalizations is the gobble. (Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife).
What do these turkey calls mean? (National Wild Turkey Federation)
- Tree Call – This call is typically made from the roost in a tree first thing in the morning. The call is to other members of the flock as if to say “Good Morning, how are you? Should we begin the day?”
- Gobble – This call is made primarily by male turkeys in the spring to attract female
- turkeys for mating.
- Putt – This is a short, one-syllabled alarm call. When used in a series, it indicates that the turkey has seen or heard danger.
- Cluck – This call is usually in a series of short, soft notes. It is used to get the
- attention of another turkey.
- Purr – A soft, rolling call, the purr is often made by content turkeys mainly when they are feeding.
- Assembly Call – This call is usually made by the adult hen when calling her young poults.
Who knew turkeys had so much to say? Are you ready to make your own call? Project BEAK has a great activity that can be done in the classroom or at home. Here's how to make a turkey call:
Materials needed: Clear plastic cup and two 12 inch long pieces of strong thread (not string or yarn).
- Turn the cup over and poke two pin holes approximately 1 inch apart in the bottom of the cup.
- Pass the thread through the pin holes so that the thread is hanging down the inside of the over turned cup.
- Tie the two dangling threads together as close as they can to the bottom of the over turned cup.
- Wet the thread (licking fingers and running it along the thread works best).
- To make the call, grasp the thread between your thumb and forefinger and pull in a jerking motion.
See the full instructions from Project BEAK below: