Turkeys: A regular sight in the Metro Parks

Turkeys aren’t just found on farms and Thanksgiving tables. Wild turkeys inhabit each of Ohio’s 88 counties, and they are a common sight within Summit Metro Parks.

Wild turkey at Liberty Park (photo by volunteer Jerry Cannon)

WHERE ARE THE TURKEYS?

Turkeys may be most easily spotted at Liberty Park in Twinsburg, where visitors can not only see the birds but can enjoy learning and relaxing at the park district’s new nature center (9999 Liberty Rd., Twinsburg). Summit Metro Parks biologist and University of Akron doctoral student Ryan Trimbath said the 3,000-acre park’s mix of habitats — forest, fields and wetlands — in northeast Summit and Portage counties appeal to the big birds.

Turkeys are seen there and in other parks year-round, Trimbath noted, because they do not migrate. Females, or hens, usually nest on the ground. Breeding starts in early spring and the young, called poults, stay with their mother until fall or the following spring.

Be on the lookout for turkeys in Cascade Valley Metro Park in Akron, Hampton Hills Metro Park in Akron and Cuyahoga Falls, O’Neil Woods Metro Park in Bath, and Sand Run Metro Park in Akron.

Turkey poults in a tree at F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm (photo by volunteer Doug Dawes)

TURKEY STATS

The wild turkey is the largest game bird in North America, ranging from 3 to 4 feet tall and weighing up to 24 pounds. Farm-raised turkeys, the center of a typical Thanksgiving feast, are twice the size of wild turkeys and usually cannot fly because of their size.

OHIO EXTINCTION, REINTRODUCTION

Less than 100 years ago, Ohio didn’t have any wild turkeys due to farming and loss of habitat. Turkeys were trapped in other states by the Ohio Division of Wildlife in the 1950s and reintroduced, first in the forests of southeast Ohio.

“Wild turkeys are a successful example of conservation and reintroduction efforts,” Trimbath said.

Wild turkeys at Cascade Valley Metro Park/South (photo by volunteers Alan and Deb Casanova)

Want to talk more turkey? Call a naturalist at Liberty Park: 330–487–0493. The nature center at Liberty Park features indoor and outdoor displays that honor the site’s natural and culture history. Regular center hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is always free.

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