Broods Rapidly Changing Behavior

After a 2-week hiatus so I could chase turkeys instead of post about them, this Turkey Tuesday is about broods and how their behavior changes rapidly as they age. With broods hitting the ground in many areas, it’s important to understand how poults change the habitats they select once they’re able to roost in trees – which is at 2 weeks of age. Recent work has shown that 1- and 2-week-old broods consistently use openings – in the 2nd and 3rd images you see GPS locations of a brood during those first 2 weeks. Combined, the brood used ~100 acres during that 2-week period, with most locations in openings except when roosting and loafing. But come week 3, when poults can roost in the tree with the hen like those in this image by Joe Foster, you see broods rapidly expand their ranges. In the 4th image, notice how the brood continues to use openings, but now the brood is using an equal amount of forest and expands its range to ~500 acres in that one week. It’s important to consider this rapid change when thinking about brood habitat, as you should manage openings that provide herbaceous vegetation near forested habitats that contain good visibility and low-growing cover so that poults can forage as easily in the forest as the openings. The take home is, ensuring that broods have quality habitat requires maintaining a diversity of both open and forested habitats – those openings that support week-old broods will often be abandoned once poults can fly and exploit new areas on the landscape.

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