Kissimmee Prairie Preserve's turkeys are one of five subspecies found in the United States. Smaller and darker than its much more numerous Eastern cousins, Florida's Osceola Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo osceola) were named for the famous Seminole Indian chief, and are only found in the Florida peninsula.
Turkeys are usually seen on the ground walking, but they can run up to 25 mph, roost in trees at night, and are said to be able to fly up to 55 mph! Kissimmee Prairie provides very valuable habitat for turkeys, particularly during the time they are rearing their young. This description from a Florida Fish and Wildlife pdf clearly sounds like the prairie:
"Brood rearing and summer foraging habitat are similar and are generally the habitat components that are most limiting, especially in Florida. Hens seek grassy, open areas with abundant insects and nearby escape cover for raising their broods. Good brood habitat generally consists of open areas with a grassy or herbaceous groundcover 1 to 3 feet in height within relative close proximity to escape cover. The vegetation should allow the poults to move unimpeded, but allow the hen to see over the vegetation to detect approaching danger."
When you visit the Preserve, you have a very good chance to see these iconic, interesting birds most any time of the year. Good places to look are near the office, and in both the campground areas. From spring into summer their gobbles are often heard -- especially in the early morning as they come out from the night's roost. If you gobble at the toms, they will stick their necks out and gobble right back at you, providing plenty of free entertainment. As the Preserve biologist Paul Miller says, "It never gets old".
Happy Thanksgiving from Kissimmee Prairie Preserve!