The large size, iridescent bronze plumage, and naked bluish head should distinguish Wild Turkeys from all other birds. Males have a prominent red neck wattle, a beard, and spurs on their legs. Their back and breast feathers are tipped with black. Females are smaller, less brightly colored, and generally lack a beard (a few females have beards up to 3 inches in length). The back and breast feathers of females are tipped with yellowish brown or white. Adult males average 48 inches in length and 16.3 pounds in weight, while adult females average 34 inches in length and 9.3 pounds in weight.
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
Open ponderosa pine forest in rugged terrain, interspersed with grassland and brushy draws is the preferred habitat. Open ponderosa pine-grassland cover types are most widely used in the Longpine Hills during summer and early fall; canyon bottoms at lower elevations, grain fields and livestock feeding areas are utilized in late fall and winter (Rose 1956).
Summer foods in the Judith Mountains and Longpine Hills consist of insects (primarily grasshoppers), bearberry, snowberry and skunkbrush sumac fruits, grass leaves and stems, and Carex seeds; winter foods are grains, hawthorn and snowberry fruits, and grass leaves, stems and heads (Rose 1956).
In the Judith Mountains and Longpine Hills, turkeys roosted irregularly in summer but regularly in winter. They used trees with a diameter of 10 to 20 inches, bare of foliated branches for at least the first 20 feet.
Nesting activities are associated with the edge of deciduous trees and brush. One was found nesting in a hayfield, 100 feet from the cover of trees and bushes (Mussehl and Howell 1971).