Gould’s Wild Turkeys

The Gould’s Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo mexicana) was discovered by, and named after, J. Gould in 1856 while traveling in Mexico. This turkey is the fifth recognized, but least known, wild turkey subspecies, and is found in portions of Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico.

The Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains in Mexico are the center of the Gould’s turkey Mexican range, extending south from the U.S./Mexico border. Populations also exist in Chihuahua, Sonora, Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, Nayarit, Jalisco and Coahuila.

In the United States, Gould’s turkeys are found in the Animas and San Luis mountains of New Mexico and in the Peloncillo Mountains of New Mexico and Arizona. Very small numbers of these turkeys can also be found along the U.S./Mexico borders in Arizona and New Mexico, but they are abundant in the northwestern portions of Mexico.

Gould's Turkey

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service, the Centro Ecologico de Sonora, the National Wild Turkey Federation and other agencies are working cooperatively to reintroduce a strong Gould’s population into Arizona and eventually other states where suitable range exists.

Like the Merriam’s, the Gould’s prefers mountainous areas.


The Gould’s Wild Turkey is the largest of the 5 subspecies and resembles the Merriam’s turkey. They have longer legs, larger feet and larger center tail feathers than any of the other wild turkey subspecies in North America.

Gould’s differ by having distinctive white tips on the tail feathers and tail rump coverts which usually separate to show an “eyelash” appearance. Lower back and rump feathers have copper and greenish-golden reflections, not like the faintly iridescent velvety black found on the Merriam’s.

Gould’s body plumage is said to be somewhat blue-green in coloration.

Adult females have a less pronounced metallic greenish and reddish sheen and are more purplish.

Photo of author

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