Can Turkeys See Red Light?

Turkey eyes and head

A red flashlight is gentler on your eyes than a white flashlight, plus it can make it more difficult for animals that you’re hunting to detect you.

This is why you’ve probably seen a variety of red-light flashlights on the market. These products are usually marketed as being advantageous for nighttime activities, such as hunting. 

Maybe you’ve already used a red flashlight to hunt turkeys and found that it didn’t spook them, or perhaps the opposite happened and the turkeys were jumpy when they noticed your red light.

If you’re going to hunt turkeys, you’ll need to know if a red flashlight is worth getting—or if you should consider a different color. So, let’s explore what colors turkeys can see, so you can stay as undetectable as possible when you hunt them. 


Can Turkeys See Red? 

Can turkey see red color

Turkeys have excellent vision, especially during the day. They can see colors such as red because they are equipped with tetrachromatic vision.

This means that they see in four color classes, red being one of them. The color categories that turkeys can see are blue, red, green, and UV light.

If you want proof that turkeys are capable of seeing red, just note the gobbler’s red head!

Turkeys have an amazing ability to change the color of their heads, and they do this to communicate to other turkeys, which means that they note these color changes. The heads of adult males are usually bold red but they turn white and bright blue when the birds become excited about, or agitated towards, other turkeys. 

So, when dressing for turkey hunting, make sure that you don’t wear any red. You should also avoid wearing orange as this can be mistaken for red and completely blow your cover. 

What Colors On The Spectrum Do Turkeys See? 

What Colors On The Spectrum Do Turkeys See?

If you assumed that turkeys couldn’t see color, you were mistaken. As humans, we don’t see in the UV spectrum, whereas turkeys and other birds not only detect colors but will also be able to detect how intense they are.

Turkeys can easily detect color changes in the environment, as their retinas contain seven types of photoreceptors, which are made up of six cone cells and one-rod cell. The rod cell picks up light in the environment and the cone cells pick up colors. 

Turkeys’ excellent detection of color means that you have to be careful when hunting these birds. Here are some important tips to bear in mind before the next time you go hunting: 

  • Avoid wearing bright colors and stick to muted, earthy tones when choosing camo patterns. 
  • Avoid bright colors around your hunting site, including your flashlight.
  • Flash a black light on your clothes, if the light looks blue, your clothing is emitting a blue glow. Turkeys can spot the phosphates found in laundry detergents that make clothing brighter.
  • Use camo that distorts your human form and prevents colors from being detected by turkeys, for example, Realtree Edge camo. 

How To Set Your Flashlight 

Adjustable flashlight beam

If you need a flashlight when hunting, for example, in low visibility conditions, you need to ensure that the turkeys don’t detect your presence. Here are some tips to bear in mind: 

  • Avoid flashlights with very bright lights. Choose one that gives you different brightness levels, so you can adjust it depending on how much light you need. 
  • Avoid any colored flashlights as turkeys see in color. 
  • Consider using a headlamp, as it will help you with tasks, without spooking wildlife. 
  • If your flashlight beam is adjustable, a spotlight beam aimed at the ground will prevent too much light from dispersing. 
  • When moving closer to the turkey roost location, avoid using flashlights that will blow your cover. 
  • Avoid using flashing lights, they are only recommended to deter turkeys. 
  • Cover the flashlight lens with your fingers or a stretched black sock so that you only see a little bit of light.

Related Questions 

Below you will find answers to some common questions regarding turkeys and their vision.

Do turkeys have a good field of vision? 

Turkeys have 270-degree vision, and they can increase this to almost 360 degrees if they turn their heads. This is why you have to be careful when approaching turkeys from the side. 

How can you stay safe when hunting turkeys if there are other hunters around? 

You should never wear anything blue, black, red, or white, as these are colors displayed by wild male turkeys. This could get you mistaken for a turkey, so stick to camouflaged clothing. 

What’s the best time of day to hunt turkeys? 

You should try to go hunting very early in the day, as this is when turkeys leave their roosting spots in woody areas or trees. You’re also likely to hear the sounds that turkeys make at this time, so you can draw them out of their location. 


If you’ve ever wondered whether turkeys can see red light, the answer is yes. It’s very important to know this before you go hunting with a red flashlight.

In this article, we’ve explained all the information that you need to know about a turkey’s eyesight. While turkeys might not be able to pick up all colors, you should try to steer clear of red lights when hunting them. 


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