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Consistency in the Timing of Reproduction in Wild Turkeys

THROWBACK TT Aug 24th, 2021 | This Turkey Tuesday is about consistency in the timing of reproduction in wild turkeys. Almost every year during early spring, us turkey hunters see toms doing what this guy is doing – strutting and gobbling – and we start believing that “it’s going to be an early year, breeding will be over soon!”. Well, in most years, things in the turkey breeding and nesting world progress on a pretty consistent schedule. The second image shows the timing of nest incubation across 5 years for a population in central Georgia. The black stars represent approximate peaks in nest incubation each year. What you’ll note is, with the exception of one year, there is strong consistency through time in regards to when hens start laying and incubating clutches. This makes sense, given that photoperiod (increasing day length) is believed to most influence the timing of breeding cycles in turkeys. Yes, factors such as severe winter weather, drought, and other environmental extremes can delay the onset of breeding but in most years, things remain on schedule. The take home is, consistency in nest incubation through time is the rule rather than the exception – in the turkey world, this consistency ensures that nests hit the ground at the optimum time to maximize nest success and poult survival.

© Tes Randle Jolly

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