Julie Craves explains what droppings reveal about Wild Turkeys

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Wild Turkeys, photographed by marian mcsherry

In the column “Since You Asked” in every issue of BirdWatching, Contributing Editor Julie Craves answers readers’ questions about birds and bird behavior. Here is a question from our April 2015 issue:

Is it true that you can tell the sex of a Wild Turkey by the shape of its droppings? — Greta Wilson, Indianapolis, Indiana

Yes, fresh turkey droppings can often be used to determine if the producer was male or female. Male turkey poop tends to be elongated or J-shaped, while the female’s is like a spiral blob, more or less similar to a snail’s shell. The contrasting configurations arise from the different internal anatomy of male and female turkeys. Many anatomical differences are common to all birds, but the males of some species, including turkeys, have a rudimentary internal sex organ. Since the structure is located close to the waste stream, it may influence the shape of droppings.

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About Julie Craves

Julie-Craves-120Julie is supervisor of avian research at the Rouge River Bird Observatory at the University of Michigan Dearborn and a research associate at the university’s Environmental Interpretive Center. She writes about her research on the blog Net Results, and she maintains the website Coffee & Conservation, a thorough resource on where coffee comes from and its impact on wild birds.

Read other questions that Julie has answered in “Since You Asked.”

If you have a question about birds for Julie, send it to [email protected] or visit our Contact pageA version of this article was published in the April 2015 issue of BirdWatching. Subscribe.

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