Wild Turkey Habitat

Quite often during my commute to work, I’ll see a few wild turkeys strutting their stuff in a field looking for seeds and bugs. The normal range of a wild turkey is about one-square mile. Seems like plenty of space for them to roam, but there are some things landowners can do to provide a healthy habitat.

Tom Hughes is a certified wildlife biologist at the National Wild Turkey Federation. He says the most critical part of managing land for wild turkey is what’s called “early successional habitat”. They need a good place to nest, and a good place to raise their brood.

"Nesting cover is generally knee-to-waist-high, with some overhead cover interspersed in there for the hens to be able to hide the nest from overhead predators," he says. "Brood rearing cover is generally shorter than that, open grassy areas that are adjacent to the nesting cover."

Hughes says grasses will also attract insects. When poults are small, they depend on bugs for protein to help them grow.

Providing food for wild turkeys isn’t a necessary part of their management, but it doesn’t hurt to have some turkey-treats available.

"For spring and summer, clovers and some of the small grains work really well. Millet, for example. In winter, again you can use clover and some of the winter small grains like wheat and oats, in particular. They really thrive on those," says Hughes. "In the Southeast, and in fact where corn is grown, another crop, chufa, which is a sedge, is one of the preferred foods for turkeys over anything."

Turkeys need trees for roosting at night, and a water source such as a pond, or creek.

Learn more about providing wild turkey habitat

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