Rare Smoke Phase Wild Turkey

We’ve had wild turkeys stop by the feeders fairly often, although this year they’ve been pretty scarce. This flock wandered in on an afternoon with a bonus for us. There was a smoke phase turkey hen in the group. People often refer to them as white-colored, since that is their main color, rather than the usual darker feathers.

In all the time I’ve seen wild turkeys I’ve never seen a smoke phase turkey, and that’s a lot of years. I spotted this flock from the kitchen window and spotted her right away. She really stood out between all the other dark colored turkeys. At first I thought she was just a white turkey that had joined the group, but when I grabbed the binoculars and had a better look I knew she was something special.

Because of where she was I couldn’t get a decent shot of her with my regular camera and I didn’t dare try to open a door or window thinking I’d just scare them all off and blow any chance of getting a video clip of her.

She pecked around in the back behind a bunch of other turkeys and wandered around the edge where I was sure the trail camera wouldn’t pick her up at all. Then she started to move in closer and I thought, maybe…

smoke phase wild turkey

It’s one of those times you hope everything on the trail camera is working, and that the lighting is at least decent. And then that she actually gets into the camera’s range. I’ve learned animals and birds don’t always cooperate.

She absolutely did. She finally moved up to the feeder in front and paraded around in front of the camera to give us a real good look at her. The clips came out perfect, really capturing her unique smoke color.

The turkeys hung around for a bit, then left and haven’t been back since. I’ve been keeping an eye out for her, but her flock hasn’t come back to the yard. It’s possible this is the first and only chance I’ll get for a video clip of a smoke phase turkey and I’m thrilled that I got it.

A Few Facts About Smoke Phase Wild Turkeys

Just to give you a bit of background, a smoke phase turkey is not the result of a wild turkey breeding with a domestic turkey. The smoke phase color is a recessive gene. Both parents must carry the gene in order for any smoke colored chicks to result. Even if that does happen, not all the chicks in a brood will be smoke colored. And although this female is a smoke phase color, she must still mate with a tom that carries the recessive gene in order to get any smoke colored chicks.

Experts say that roughly one in a hundred wild turkeys come out as a white-colored or smoke phase turkey, with hens having a higher percentage than toms.

a smoke phase wild turkey hen

There are two other color phases in wild turkeys that you want to keep an eye out for. Red phase, or erythritic and black phase, or melanistic. Both of these phases are even more rare than the smoke colored so if you happen to get a glimpse of one of these two rare colors consider yourself extremely lucky.

It’s always fun and exciting to get something new coming to the feeders, when we get something this special we’re just plain thrilled.

If you put out bird feeders or deer feeders, keep those trail cameras rolling you just never know when something extraordinary will happen. We got real lucky this time and it’s double the fun sharing it with you.