- Author: Robert J Keiffer
- http://creagus.home.montereybay.com: Don Roberson
Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), a common meandering terrestrial bird throughout California's oak and pine woodlands, are routinely considered "introduced non-native" gamebirds. Even though this genus is native to the Americas, it did not occur in California during historical times, and introductions to California began as early as 1877 (Santa Cruz Island). Most successful introductions occurred after the 1950s.
Researcher David W. Steadman, as published in the 1980 proceedings of the L.A.County Museum, reviewed the osteology and paleontology of Turkeys in North America. It is important to note that today's wild turkey is the same species as the turkeys that existed in N.A. in the late Pleistocene, about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Fossil turkey remains from the La Brea tar pits of Los Angeles County, and a humerus turkey bone from Potter Creek Cave in Shasta County, are supporting evidence that wild turkeys roamed what is now California as recently as 10,000 years ago.
Check out the "tommies" (adult tom, or male, turkeys) in the photo below. Also, please see an interesting paper for further information on the subject by Don Roberson at: http://creagus.home/montereybay.com/turkey-in-CA.html