Ever wonder where turkeys lucky enough to survive Thanksgiving can be found? We set out to find the answer by looking at the annual USGS Breeding Bird Survey. If you’d like to find a turkey someplace other than the dinner table on Thanksgiving, the best place in the US, statistically speaking, is Roger Mills, OK. It averaged over 28 wild turkeys counted during the USGS 2.5-hour survey period. In fact, counties in Oklahoma and Kansas stuffed the top 10 list of the most turkey-populated places in the U.S.

Top 10 counties where Turkeys spend their Thanksgiving, 2004-2013
Rank County State Avg # of Turkeys During 2.5 Hour Period
1 Roger Mills Oklahoma 28.6
2 Beckham Oklahoma 22.5
3 Geary Kansas 21
4 Lincoln Nebraska 17.2
5 Kenedy Texas 15.7
6 Clark Kansas 14.9
7 Greer Oklahoma 14.1
8 Osborne Kansas 10.3
9 Russell Kansas 10.3
10 Ellis/Woodward (tie) Kansas 10.1

Among states, Kansas teems with more turkeys than any place else. Over 10 years, an average of nearly 3.2 gobblers was sighted along all survey routes in the Sunflower State during the survey periods, compared with 2.3 in runner-up Wisconsin. In fact, all but one of the top 10 turkey states are outside the US heartland – Connecticut.

10-year Average of Turkeys Observed During USGS Survey Period, by County
Top 10 states where Turkeys spend their Thanksgiving, 2004-2013
Rank State Avg # of Turkeys During 2.5 Hour Period
1 Kansas 3.2
2 Wisconsin 2.3
3 Oklahoma 2.1
4 Nebraska 2
5 Missouri 1.4
6 Kentucky 1.3
7 Michigan 1.1
8 Connecticut 1
9 Tennessee 0.9
10 South Dakota 0.8

We’ve also gathered the names and locations of self-styled turkey capitals in the US. Gobblers can be found hanging out in large numbers near these turkey-happy places, such as Turkey, TX; Barron, WI (turkey capital of Wisconsin); Fairview, MI (wild turkey Capital of Michigan); and, last but not least, Cuero, TX, which, perhaps immodestly, calls itself the turkey capital of the world. But turkeys are also giving thanks for their freedom this Thanksgiving in other parts of the country too. Areas of central Florida, northern California, and the Northeast also have dense populations of wild turkeys.

Named Turkey Capitals of the US
Turkey Capital Slogan
Barron, WI Turkey Capital of WI
Boscobel, WI Turkey Hunting Capital of WI
Berryville, AR Turkey Capital
Cuero, TX Turkey Capital of the World
Fairview, MI Wild Turkey Capital of MI
North Andover, MA Turkey Town
Turkey, KY Namesake
Turkey, NC Namesake
Turkey, TX Namesake
Turkey Creek, LA Namesake
Worthington, MN Turkey Capital of the World
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_city_nicknames_in_the_United_States

So, this Turkey Day, tip your hat to your dinner’s free-ranging cousin, our unofficial national fowl. Happy Thanksgiving from Trulia!


To estimate the average number of turkeys found at the state and county level, we used the USGS Breeding Bird Survey route data from 2004-2013 to calculate an “average of averages,” whereby the state or county average is the average of all surveyed routes’ 10-year average of observed turkeys within that state or county. Note: Although the BBS consists of over 4,000 survey routes randomly distributed across the U.S., there is variation in the number of survey routes sampled in each state and county, both over space and time. As such, the actual abundance of turkeys at the county level may deviate from our estimates.