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Dog Days of Summer

THROWBACK TT July 20th, 2021 | This Turkey Tuesday is about the dog days of summer in the wild turkey world. Turkeys shrink their home ranges during summer, focusing solely on avoiding predation and hanging out in areas with abundant foraging resources. Turkeys spend time each day loafing like the tom in this picture, but they tend to loaf more in summer during mid-day periods – not surprisingly in areas with shade and cooler temperatures. The second image shows a typical set of movements during July – these data are hourly locations (yellow dots) and roost locations (red dots) for a tom in central Georgia. There’s much to note here that is important to landowners and managers. One, the entire area this bird used across 2 weeks was approximately 75 acres – much less area than turkeys will use at other times of the year. Two, in the pine-dominated landscape he lives on, hardwood forests were used extensively as were several openings (fields). Not only do hardwood stands provide forage during summer, they also provide areas with cooler temperatures. Three, this tom uses numerous roost locations and spends quite a bit of time near these roosts – this tells me that those areas are not only suitable for resting at night, but also have quality foraging resources. In other words, the areas with red and yellow dots clustered tightly together are places where this tom can get a safe night’s rest and obtain groceries – they have “the right stuff” if you will. The take home is, even small acreages of private land can make a positive impact on local wild turkey populations, particularly during summer when birds are not covering much ground. If your land has roost sites, conserve them. If you see turkeys foraging in open areas or forests on your land, seek to continue managing those areas in a way to maintain succulent, low-growing vegetation where turkeys can forage and loaf while keeping an eye out for danger. In the turkey world, moving less, loafing more, and avoiding trouble are the keys to dealing with the dog days of summer.

First photo © Tes Randle Jolly

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