Rooster vs. Turkey [What Sets These Birds Apart?]

roosters vs. turkeys

Most people don’t differentiate between roosters and turkeys, but generally, some key differences make these two birds easily distinguishable. 

Below we’ll compare roosters and turkeys to help you comprehend their dissimilarities. We’ll explore their physical attributes, behavior, and more interesting facts.

Let’s dive in!


The Physical Differences Between Roosters and Turkeys


There’s a significant difference between roosters and turkeys regarding the size. Generally, roosters are smaller than turkeys, reaching a height of about two to three feet. 

Roosters can weigh up to eight pounds, but some breeds are usually much lighter. On the other hand, turkeys are much larger than roosters, reaching heights of four to five feet. 

rooster vs. turkey sizes

The male turkeys can reach weights of up to twenty-four pounds, while the females usually weigh around fourteen pounds. 

It’s also worth noting that while roosters are usually much thinner than turkeys, some breeds have longer feathers.


Regarding feathers, roosters and turkeys share similarities, but there are also some distinct differences. 

Roosters have larger and more extravagant tail feathers than turkeys. While turkeys have a few large feathers on their tails, roosters’ tail feathers are longer and more numerous. 

Roosters also typically have more of a variety of colors in their plumage. On the other hand, turkeys tend to have a much more uniform coloration throughout their feathers. 

Additionally, turkey feathers are usually less defined than roosters and tend to hunch over when walking. 

Another distinguishing feature of the turkey’s head is its distinct beard-like feathers, which are unique among birds.


One of the most obvious physical differences between roosters and turkeys is their shape. 

Roosters have a slimmer, sleeker shape than turkeys. Their head and body are usually smooth and streamlined with a pointed tail. 

Roosters also tend to have longer legs than turkeys, which gives them an elegant appearance when they stand.

In contrast, turkeys have a larger and rounder body shape than roosters. This is due to their increased amount of muscle mass and fat reserves. 

They also have shorter legs, giving them a less graceful appearance. A turkey’s head is often adorned with a fleshy knob called a snood, which hangs over its beak. 


Roosters typically have a more vibrant and colorful appearance compared to turkeys. Roosters generally have brighter feathers with a metallic sheen. 

They may also have iridescent colors such as red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. 

rooster vs. turkey color

The rooster’s tail is often the bird’s most colorful part, displaying a fan of feathers that can be found in different colors.

On the other hand, turkeys tend to be more muted in their colors. Adult males may have some white, tan, or gray feathers but will often lack the shimmering colors of roosters. 

Female turkeys typically have a brown or white coloration and may have lighter feathers on their chest or neck. Their tail feathers may have some color variation, but it’s usually more subtle than roosters’ tails.


Another noticeable difference between roosters and turkeys is their beak. The rooster’s and turkey’s beaks differ in shape and size

rooster vs turkey beak

The rooster’s curved beak gives them an advantage when searching for food. It allows them to probe and pick at the ground for small insects and grains with greater precision. 

The rooster’s beak is not suitable for picking at vegetation like the turkey’s because its curved shape prevents it from easily grasping it.

The turkey’s shorter and straight beak is better suited for eating larger items like seeds, berries, grains, and other vegetation, as it’s less likely to get stuck.


Roosters have yellowish or white legs, while turkeys have gray or black legs. Roosters have longer and skinnier legs than turkeys, with shorter and thicker ones.

The feet of a rooster also look different than that of a turkey. Roosters’ feet are typically yellow and curved, while turkeys have wide feet with only three toes. 

The size difference is also quite noticeable, as a rooster’s foot is much smaller in comparison to the bigger feet of a turkey.

Roosters are also better equipped for jumping high due to their long legs and smaller feet, while turkeys aren’t able to jump as high due to their shorter and heavier legs and wider feet.

The Wattle

A wattle is a fleshy, often brightly colored piece of skin hanging from some animals’ faces or necks. 

The purpose of the wattles is not entirely clear, but they help to control body temperature, as the wattles can grow and shrink with temperature changes. 

They may also be used for social signaling, such as courtship displays. Roosters and turkeys have wattles, but their shape, size, and color are very different. 

The rooster’s wattle is usually red, thick, and small, while the turkey’s wattle is usually blue or purple and larger. The rooster’s wattle hangs loosely down, while the turkey’s wattle is rounder and more erect.

Roosters also have combs on top of their heads, made up of reddish-pink fleshy tissue.
Turkeys do not have combs; instead, they have a fleshy crown at the top of their head called a caruncle.

The Behavioral Differences Between Roosters and Turkeys


Roosters and turkeys each have distinct calls that are easily recognizable. These calls help define a particular flock’s territory and identify the age and sex of individual birds.

Roosters are known for their loud and distinctive crows, but turkeys have unique vocalizations. Roosters are typically heard crowing early in the morning. 

The most common turkey call is the “gobble,” a loud, booming sound that can be heard from far distances.

Female turkeys will also make a clucking sound known as “yelping.” Roosters and turkeys can also make other sounds, such as clucks, purrs, and whines.


Roosters and turkeys can exhibit territorial and aggressive behavior, but there are some subtle differences between the two. 

Roosters tend to be more territorial and aggressive, often crowing to claim their territory. They may chase and peck at other birds or animals they perceive as a threat.

Turkeys are also known to be territorial, but their aggression is usually directed toward members of their species rather than other animals. 

They often display aggressive behavior, such as “strutting” or displaying feathers when competing for mating rights or claiming a particular area as their own.

Courtship Displays

Both roosters and turkeys display courtship behaviors when looking to attract a mate. However, the courtship displays of these two birds are different from each other.

Courtship Displays of rooster and turkey

Roosters will strut their stuff and spread their wings while making a sound that can be likened to a crow. They’ll also puff their feathers and put their heads in the air. 

On the other hand, turkeys will try to look as attractive as possible by fanning out their feathers, drooping their wings, and dancing around the female turkey. 

They may also make a special gobbling sound to attract the female’s attention. 

Generally, these birds rely on visual cues to express their courtship, such as strutting, circling, and flicking their tails.

Frequently Asked Questions about Roosters and Turkeys

Do roosters and turkeys get along?

Generally, roosters and turkeys can live peacefully in the same habitat and feed from the same bird feeder.  However, roosters may occasionally establish dominance over the turkeys, but in most cases, they won’t fight or display aggressive behaviour.

Which meat is delicious, rooster or turkey?

When it comes to flavor, both rooster and turkey can be tasty and flavorful depending on how they are prepared. Generally, roosters (which is chicken) tend to have a richer, deeper flavor, while turkey has a milder flavor. 

The texture of the meat can also vary depending on which bird you choose. Rooster meat tends to be firmer than turkey meat and, as such, can be more difficult to cook. Turkey meat is often considered more versatile in preparation, making it a popular choice for many meals. 

Ultimately, it’s up to the individual consumer to decide which poultry meat they prefer based on their personal preference.

Comments are closed.