An estimated 150,000 turkeys now live in Illinois, mostly in southern, western and northwestern Illinois. While there are six subspecies of turkey in the United States, the one that lives in Illinois is the eastern wild turkey.
Wild turkeys can be found throughout the Will County forest preserves.
“We have a few preserves that hold significant numbers of turkey,” said Glen Buckner, the District’s wildlife biologist. “Rock Run Preserve, Sugar Creek Preserve, McKinley Woods and the ‘Sands’ – Kankakee Sands Preserve, Sand Ridge Savanna Nature Preserve and Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve – all have known turkey populations. And you can occasionally see them at Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve.”
At times, domesticated turkeys will escape from a farm or be set loose and they can be spotted in a preserve or a neighborhood, Buckner said.
“The domesticated ones don’t do well in the wild because they are too heavy to fly up into nighttime roosts – and their breast muscles have been overengineered to the point that they generally cannot fly," he explained. "Sometimes domestic turkeys will resemble wild turkeys, but most often they are white. Also, domestic turkeys make a lot more noise than wild turkeys, and they have no survival skills.”