by Ben Sobieck, T&TH online editor
Seeing a white or light gray turkey may make people think it’s a wild-domestic hybrid. While this can be true, it’s not the case with “smoke-phase” wild turkeys.
From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
“The partially white or smoke-phase turkeys occur naturally,” said Tom
Glines, Minnesota’s senior regional director for the National Wild
Turkey Federation. “The white or gray feathers are black-tipped and the
birds are beautiful.”
The reason has everything to do with genetics, not cross-breeding.
What is known is that the wild turkey has four distinct color variations
from what is considered the usual plumage. They are the smoke phase,
the erythritic or red phase, the melanistic or black phase, and the true
albinos, which are pure white with pink eyes. Although these color
variations are uncommon, the smoke phase is the most frequently seen.
Recessive genes or mutations account for the color abnormalities.
This abnormality doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the bird. It’s only a different color. That meat is just as tasty, too.