Wild turkeys usually wait until the spring to fight for hens and territory, but Richard Moore discovered a pair of Rio Grande gobblers already brawling with the new year just beginning.
The New Year is less than a week old and spring officially months away, but these wild turkeys are already engaged in combat.
With their necks intertwined, the battling gobblers attempt to throw their opponent to the ground while their fight is watched with keen interest by a group of young toms. The tussle appears to end in a draw with neither combatant injured.
While this is early for Rio Grande gobblers to be brawling, they will be in full strutting splendor and ready for duels in a little over a month.
Approximately 7 million wild turkeys now roam the nation, and Texas boasts the country’s largest population with some 600,000 birds.
With self-sustaining populations in every state except Alaska, America’s turkeys have rebounded dramatically from a low of a mere 30,000 nationwide in the early 1900’s.
Loss of habitat and unregulated hunting drove turkeys to the brink of extinction, but thanks to conservation and restoration efforts America’s largest game bird is thriving.
Texas was key to successful restoration efforts that took decades of restocking to accomplish. Protected flocks on large private lands such as the King Ranch provided the nucleus of birds for one of the nation’s most successful wildlife conservation efforts.
If you are interested in seeing wild turkeys in the Rio Grande Valley, there are several flocks that reside in Arroyo City, and Port Mansfield also harbors plenty of the magnificent birds.
It won’t be long now before we will be treated to one of the most spectacular shows in nature as gaudy gobblers fan their tail feathers, boldly strutting in spring wildflowers.