MI Birds

Gobble, gobble! The Comeback of Michigan’s Wild Turkey

Collaborative conservation efforts over the last half-century have helped Wild Turkey populations rebound

Wild Turkeys can be found across Michigan roosting in trees (really!) and strutting and puffing out their feathers. But that wasn’t always the case. By the turn of the 20th century, wild turkey populations across the state were decimated due to the destruction of critical habitat and unregulated hunting. 

Did you know that turkeys not only gobble, they also cluck and purr? In addition to flying, Wild Turkeys can even swim when they need to! Thanks to collaborative conservation, these incredible birds are once again thriving across Michigan's forests and open woodland habitats.

In the 1950s, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources began an effort with partners to reintroduce Wild Turkey to the state. Fifty Wild Turkeys were purchased from Pennsylvania and released into the open woodlands of Allegan County, helping to strengthen and diversify the population. Thirty years later, wild turkeys from Missouri and Iowa were released across the state. There are now 200,000 Wild Turkeys gobbling across Michigan thanks to a half-century of partnership.

“Conservation success stories like the reintroduction of Wild Turkeys in Michigan are examples of what is possible through years of strong partnerships and community support,” said Adam Bump, DNR Upland Game Bird Specialist. “We work closely with conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF ) and their local chapters to restore and enhance habitat that wild turkeys need to thrive.”

NWTF is a MI Birds partner and has co-hosted immersive birding field trips at oak-savannah restoration sites, engaging the birding community in Wild Turkey conservation. Some songbird favorites like Eastern Towhees and Blue-winged Warblers rely on the same habitat to thrive.

Learn how you can help support Wild Turkeys: 


MI Birds is a public outreach and engagement program presented by Audubon Great Lakes and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources that works to build and bring together wildlife enthusiasts across the state to engage with and conserve Michigan's birds and public lands. 

How you can help, right now