Why Do Turkeys Gobble? 3 Reasons for This Behavior

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If you have turkeys living near your home, you probably hear a lot of gobbling. Chances are, you’ve probably wondered why they are doing it, if it’s a form of conversation, what they might be saying. If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. We’re about to look at several reasons why turkeys might be gobbling.

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Top 3 Reasons Why Turkeys Gobble

1. Mating

turkeys mating
Image Credit: Guppyfish, Shutterstock

The most likely reason you hear turkeys gobble is that it’s the mating season. Turkeys can start breeding as early as February in the southern states and in April or May in northern regions. Only males gobble, and they do it to attract females. It’s also common for the turkeys to become more aggressive during this time and may even attack humans, though they are not capable of much damage. An increase in sunlight triggers the mating hormones, which causes the turkeys to wake up and start gobbling early in the morning. Besides gobbling, the male turkeys will fan their feathers or drag the wings and strut around to get the female’s attention. They will also employ the help of subdominant brothers to improve their chances of success.

2. Answering a Call

Female Wild Turkeys
Image Credit: MOHANN, Pixabay

Another reason many experts believe turkeys gobble is to answer a call from another. If you can hear turkeys on your property, you will often hear one gobble, and another will answer. Hunter’s use this Turkey fact to great success and use a simple Turkey call to trick the real birds into answering them and giving away their location. The call doesn’t even need to sound much like a turkey to get a response, as these birds often start gobbling to any loud noises, including a breaking tree branch or a car horn.

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3. Warning Others

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Image Credit: Matthias Böckel, Pixabay

Another thing many scientists noticed about turkeys is that they often start to gobble when they see a predator like a hawk or a fox. Gobbling, in this case, can be a way to warn the others in its flock about impending danger. Turkeys will also use other defensive maneuvers like ruffling their feathers to look bigger and scare away predators. Predator warnings are noticeably louder than the regular gobbles that the turkey produces, and it will usually do several loud ones in a row.

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Do Turkeys Talk To Each Other?

Scientists haven’t been able to prove if turkeys can have a conversation with each other. While many people know turkeys gobble, they can also create a variety of other sounds. For example, turkeys can cackle, yelp, purr, cluck, and more, and many of these sounds seem to have a specific effect on the others nearby. We already talked about the warning gobbling, but they can also produce a series of yelps that causes the flock to assemble, and there are several other sounds they make that seem to have a specific meaning as well.

One argument against gobbling being real conversation between turkeys is the fact that it’s so easy for hunters to mimic their call, causing them to give away their location. Since the hunters cannot know actual turkey words, the birds can only respond to a sound and not a real conversation.

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Summary

If you hear a lot of commotion and turkey gobbling on your property, early spring and mating season is likely beginning to set it. So many male turkeys will start gobbling early in the morning and will carry on for several hours, and it can last quite a few days. If you hear an occasional gobble, then there is a turkey nearby responding to a sound it’s hearing, likely another turkey that is keeping it oriented with the flock. It can also warn other turkeys that a predator is nearby, especially if the gobbling is a little louder.

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Featured Image Credit: Sean R. Stubben, Shutterstock

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>