Why Are Wild Turkeys Wandering Through Bloomington-Normal? | WGLT

Why Are Wild Turkeys Wandering Through Bloomington-Normal?

Nov 7, 2017

If you’ve seen a flock of wild turkeys wandering through your front yard recently, no, you’re not going crazy.

It’s a funny side effect of a serious (and successful) conservation effort to bring wild turkeys back to Illinois, said Angelo Capparella, an Illinois State University associate professor and bird expert. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has been reintroducing wild turkeys around the state, and they’ve rebounded well, Capparella said.

At first, there were large winter flocks out in the countryside, along the Mackinaw River corridor, he said. Then individual birds were spotted in Bloomington-Normal. Last summer, a female turkey was discovered nesting on the north side of Constitution Trail in north Normal, Capparella said.  

He said that’s probably what lead to Bloomington-Normal’s now-famous wild turkeys, captured in photos shared on social media by people wondering what the heck is going on.

“It is a pretty neat phenomenon, considering that we started with zero in the early 1900s, and now we’ve got a really healthy population of wild turkeys. It’s been a real conservation success story,” he said.

A single female can have 10-12 young birds in her nest, leading to good-sized flocks, he said.

The wild turkeys are generally harmless, Capparella said. The males can be a little feisty during spring mating season, and turkeys will occasionally get infatuated with their reflections in shiny objects (like your car). If you don’t want them to keep coming back, don’t feed them, Capparella said.

Yes, there is a wild turkey hunting season. No, you can’t hunt on your front lawn and save yourself a Thanksgiving week trip to the grocery store.

“Apparently there was enough of a strip and a good, grassy nesting area along north Constitution Trail, that a family (of birds) set up shop there,” Capparella said. “And that’s what people have been seeing.”

Here's where the wild turkeys have been spotted so far. Want to report more sightings? Email us at news@wglt.org and include a photo.

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