Are Turkey Tails Truly Colorful?

Wild turkeys with peak in background

Wild turkeys outside Parachute, Colorado

Sometimes my family hangs around with a bunch of turkeys. I was lucky enough to get a nice shot of them, or at least one with a background I love. It seems strange to me that these gobblers are black. As a kid I learned turkey anatomy by way of art projects featuring a tail of brightly colored feathers. I’ve never seen a turkey with a tail like that, but then I’ve seen few turkeys–none of them very close. I only started siting the big birds around our family’s western Colorado ranch in the last couple decades, probably because turkeys have been working their way back from near extinction since the early 1900s.

Wild turkey with iridescent feathers

Iridescent turkey photo by Courtney Celley, USFWS

Anyway, maybe the turkey’s colorful reputation originated with the iridescent glow of their non-tail feathers. Whether that coloring migrated to the tail in children’s art projects because of creativity or confusion, I can’t say, but somebody ought to tell teachers that they are misleading students who’ve never met a turkey…other than the human variety.

About breathtakebyways

Ann Williams’ travel articles have appeared in publications all over the country including The Washington Post, Roads to Adventure, and Jack and Jill. Between researching and writing books, she specializes in creative lectures.