Decoding the Language of Turkeys: A Guide to Their 12 Distinct Sounds

Turkeys, those majestic birds with their impressive plumage and distinctive calls, have a surprisingly rich vocabulary. Beyond the iconic “gobble,” they possess a diverse repertoire of sounds, each conveying specific messages and serving unique purposes. Understanding this avian language can be fascinating and beneficial, especially for hunters seeking to communicate with these wary creatures.

Unveiling the Secrets of Turkey Communication

Turkeys rely on a complex system of vocalizations to navigate their social interactions, express emotions, and warn of potential threats. These sounds vary depending on the age, gender, and context of the bird, creating a symphony of chirps, yelps, and gobbles that paint a vivid picture of their intentions.

A Comprehensive Guide to Turkey Sounds:

  1. Assembly Yelps: When a mother turkey needs to gather her young, she emits a series of loud, shrill yelps, signaling an urgent call to assemble. These yelps are distinct from other yelps due to their increased volume and prolonged notes, reflecting the mother’s concern for her offspring.

  2. Cackle: Similar to chickens, turkeys announce their departure from the roost with a series of cackles. These vocalizations can also be heard when they take flight to settle in their evening roosts. A typical cackle consists of 10 notes that gradually increase in pitch, creating a loud and unevenly spaced sound.

  3. Cluck: This versatile sound serves various purposes in turkey communication A single cluck can be used to attract the attention of another turkey, regardless of gender Additionally, a hen might cluck to signal to a tom that she is waiting for him to approach.

  4. Cluck and Purr: Contentment is expressed through a combination of a brief cluck followed by a rolling purr. This sound is often heard from a mother turkey as she feeds or interacts with her young, or from a hen sitting on her eggs, reassuring her unborn chicks.

  5. Cutt: When a hen encounters a male turkey, she might express excitement through a series of cutting sounds. This vocalization can escalate into a competition between hens, with each trying to outdo the other in volume and intensity.

  6. Drumming and Spitting: Strutting male turkeys engage in a display of dominance by drumming their chests and spitting. This behavior is rarely witnessed by humans, as it occurs during courtship rituals.

  7. Gobble: Perhaps the most recognizable turkey sound, the gobble is primarily associated with male turkeys, although hens can also produce this vocalization. It resembles a loud, gurgling sound, often used to announce the male’s presence to potential mates during the spring breeding season.

  8. Purr: Just like a contented cat, a happy turkey will emit a soft, rolling purr. This sound is typically heard from hens interacting with their eggs or poults, or from feeding turkeys expressing their satisfaction.

  9. Putt: When danger lurks, a hen turkey will sound the alarm with a sharp, single or repeated “putt.” This serves as a warning to other turkeys, especially her offspring, to be on high alert.

  10. Tree Call: After settling into their roosts for the night, wild turkeys engage in a series of low, muffled yelps and clucks known as the tree call. This serves as a way to communicate with nearby turkeys, reassuring each other of their presence and safety.

  11. Whistle: A lost young turkey, typically a juvenile, will emit a distinctive whistle or “kee-kee” call. This sound consists of three notes lasting about two seconds, sometimes followed by a yelp, signaling the bird’s distress and need for guidance.

  12. Yelp: Contrary to yelps of pain emitted by other animals, a turkey’s yelp serves as a communication tool. A female turkey uses this sound to attract a male, expressing her eagerness to meet him. Yelps are loud, clear sounds produced by connecting single notes, often increasing in frequency and volume when the hen is excited.

Understanding Turkey Communication: A Path to Deeper Connection

While many turkey sounds may seem similar to the untrained ear, understanding the context, age, and gender of the bird can unlock a deeper understanding of their communication. By recognizing the nuances of their vocalizations, we gain valuable insights into their behavior, social dynamics, and emotional states. This knowledge can be particularly beneficial for hunters, allowing them to effectively mimic turkey sounds and attract these elusive birds.

Beyond the Sounds: A Holistic Approach to Turkey Communication

While mastering the art of turkey calls is a valuable skill, it’s important to remember that communication goes beyond mere sounds. Observing their body language, understanding their habitat, and respecting their natural behaviors are crucial aspects of building a deeper connection with these fascinating creatures. By combining our knowledge of their vocalizations with a holistic understanding of their world, we can bridge the gap between humans and turkeys, fostering a more respectful and enriching coexistence.

Fly Down or Fly-up Cackle

A cackle typically consists of three to ten loud, staccato notes that are unevenly spaced out and get louder as the call gets closer to its conclusion. Though it can also be heard when a bird is approaching a roost, the cackle is typically connected with a bird departing the roost. A fly-down cackle is good call to tell a gobbler that a hen is on the ground. However, a fly-down cackle often works best if the gobbler is already on the ground before you call. If not, the tom might remain on the roost and wait for what he believes to be a hen turkey to approach him before taking off. When looking for roosted toms, a fly-up cackle can also be a useful tool because it may entice one of them to gobble Your browser does not support the audio tag.

The gobble is a loud, rapid gurgling sound made by male turkeys. One of the main vocalizations of a male wild turkey, the gobble is mainly used in the spring to alert hens to his presence. When using a gobble, hunters should exercise caution, especially on public land where it might draw other hunters to your location. It can also be a double-edged sword. A gobble could attract a dominant tom seeking a fight, or it could scare away less dominant birds hoping to escape a good beating. It is often used as a call of last resort. But, it can also be used successfully in the late evening to entice a tom to eat the roost. Your browser does not support the audio tag.

The kee kee is usually a three-note call that lasts about two seconds. A variation of the call, the kee kee run, is merely a kee kee followed by a yelp. The kee kee is the call of lost young turkeys and variations are also made by adult birds. Its often associated with fall hunting and is used to reassemble a scattered flock. During the spring, you can use it to sound more natural, especially on public land where it could help you stand out from other hunters who use yelps and cutts. Your browser does not support the audio tag.

The fundamental turkey sound is the plain yelp, which is frequently produced by a series of single-note vocalizations. The simple yelp is a fundamental form of communication among turkeys, though its meaning can vary based on the hen’s usage. It is also commonly used by a hen to communicate with a gobbler during mating season. This is a basic turkey hunting call. If you can yelp, you have a chance of being able to call in a turkey. Your browser does not support the audio tag.

Purring is a soft, rolling call turkeys make when content. It is a kind of low-pitched speech used by turkeys to communicate and is frequently produced by feeding them. This call is not very loud, but it can be useful to comfort turkeys when they approach your location. Your browser does not support the audio tag.

The putt is a single or several sharp notes. The putt is typically interpreted as an alarm, indicating that the bird has heard or seen something and is warning of impending danger. When a gobbler is within range but you are unable to get him to stop or raise his head, this can be helpful. However, before putting at a gobbler it is best to have your shotgun ready and on target. You won’t have much time to shoot after setting off the alarm because the bird will take off at the first sign of movement. Your browser does not support the audio tag.

The tree call is a sequence of gentle, muffled yelps made by a roosted bird, which occasionally becomes louder as the moment of takeoff approaches. Maybe accompanied by soft clucking. It is generally acknowledged as a call to communicate with others in a flock. It can be used to let a gobbler on the roost know you are there. Your browser does not support the audio tag.

There are a wide variety of different sounds or vocalizations made by wild turkeys. Listen to them here.

Hunting wild turkeys successfully involves a number of factors, such as calling them at the appropriate time and location. Gaining an understanding of the unique noises that wild turkeys make in various circumstances can improve your chances of obtaining a successful harvest and improve your overall skill as a wild turkey hunter.

Sounds courtesy of Denny Gulvas of Gulvas Wildlife Adventures.

A series of loud yelps, typically a little more forceful and prolonged than a typical series of yelps, constitute the adult hen assembly call. The assembly yelp is used by a hen to assemble her flock or young poults. It is a good call in the fall when trying to call a scattered flock back together. Your browser does not support the audio tag.

The cluck consists of one or more short, staccato notes. The plain cluck often includes two or three single note clucks. Usually used by one bird to attract the attention of another, it’s a good call to let a gobbler know that a hen is waiting for him when he approaches. If Gobbler starts to hang up, this is a great call to try and get him to come into range. Additionally, you can use it to quietly alert a gobbler to your presence while the birds are still on the roost. Your browser does not support the audio tag.

The cluck and purr is a cluck followed by a rolling, almost staccato call. It is often associated with flock talk or the feeling of contentment. Turkeys respond well to this call, which is usually not very loud but can occasionally be amplified, because it reassures them as they approach your position. Your browser does not support the audio tag.

Loud, sharp clucks that are often mixed with yelping. Cutting is a sign that turkeys are excited, not alarmed. Cutting has several uses in hunting. You can cut back in an effort to bring a hen that is cutting and a gobbler that is henned up to you. You will want to mimic her calls, while cutting off her vocalizations and being a bit more excited. This strategy’s objective is to entice a dominant hen to spar with you; frequently, she will bring the gobbler along. You can also cutt when you have tried soft calling to a gobbler that is hung up. Your browser does not support the audio tag.

Similar sounds and notes as a plain yelp but much more excited, rapid and with more volume. This is not a sign of alarm, but indicates that a turkey is worked up about something. If a gobbler is henned up, you could be able to lure him to you by starting a quarrel with the flock’s dominant hen. You could entice the hen and the gobbler with her if you give her an enthusiastic yell and interrupt her vocalizations with your own calls. A happy yelp can also be used after you’ve attempted soft calling a gobbler who has hung up. Your browser does not support the audio tag.

Turkey Call – Turkey Sound ~ Learn The Sound a Turkey Makes


What is the sound that turkey makes?

GOBBLE: A loud, rapid gurgling sound made by male turkeys. The gobble is one of the principal vocalizations of the male wild turkey and is used primarily in the spring to let hens know he is in the area. KEE KEE RUN: A three-note call that lasts about two seconds.

What is the gobble on a turkey called?

What is the gobble thing on a turkey called? If you mean that large, fleshy red skin hanging from a Turkey’s throat it’s called a wattle. The wattle can become engorged with blood and is used as sexual display by male turkeys. Female turkeys also have a wattle although it is smaller.

What is a turkeys call called?

Vocalizations of wild turkeys include “gubles”, “clucks”, “putts”, “purrs”, “yelps”, “cutts”, “cackles”, “kee-kees”, “clulululud” and the coveted French call “glouglou”.

How many sounds can a turkey make?

Biologists have confirmed that wild turkeys have at least 29 different calls or vocalizations, ranking them among the most vocal of birds. And perhaps the most appealing aspect of turkey hunting is engaging in a conversation with a cooperative tom as it thunders toward your setup.

What sounds do turkeys make?

Turkeys make a lot of different sounds, many of which are different in spring and fall. Though most hunters can routinely fill tags by using only two or three sounds, it’s good to know what other sounds turkeys make and why. The most commonly heard sound in the turkey woods is made by the hen, and it’s called a yelp.

What does a Turkey cut sound like?

When you first hear a turkey cutting, it may sound as if the individual is alarmed or frightened. However, this sound is actually used to demonstrate that the turkey is excited. The kee kee call has several variations. Overall, it is a three-note sound.

Do humans hear the sounds made by wild turkeys?

Humans rarely hear most of the sounds made by wild turkeys. For communication purposes, they have developed a distinctive set of sounds. Some sounds are produced to communicate with a particular subset of birds or by members of a particular gender or age group.

What does a Turkey whistle sound like?

However, adult turkeys make similar turkey sounds when separated from their flocks. The whistle is also called a kee-kee call. When the bird makes this turkey sound, it emits three notes that last about two seconds. Sometimes, the young bird will follow the three-note run of the kee-kee call with a yelp.

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