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Extraordinary Adaptability of Wild Turkeys

THROWBACK TT Sept 28, 2021 | This Turkey Tuesday is about the adaptability of wild turkeys, which in some cases allows them to do some pretty extraordinary things. Translocation, the process of capturing and relocating wild turkeys, is the cornerstone of how populations were restored throughout North America. Translocated birds are known to move greater distances than birds in established populations, as they gain familiarity with their surroundings. Moreover, Merriam’s wild turkeys, like this tom displaying for his lady friends, are known to sometimes move quite a distance between their winter and spring ranges. In some parts of their range, Merriam’s birds also cover some ground moving between suitable patches of forest cover while navigating across open areas. Put all of that together, and you have a recipe for something interesting to happen! The second image shows movements of a Merriam’s hen translocated to northern Arizona by Arizona Game and Fish Department. The cluster of points on the right denote where she quickly settled and appeared to establish a range after being released in February. Well, that “settling” went out the window as the breeding/nesting season approached in April. Maybe she was looking for a tom, maybe she was looking for a nest site, maybe she was training for a marathon. Whatever the case, over the next 3 weeks she covered 73 miles before settling back in where she started. She never nested that year, but she certainly did gain some familiarity with the landscape! The take home is, the adaptability of wild turkeys and their ability to navigate the landscape are really quite remarkable. Can you imagine what she encountered and saw in a totally unfamiliar landscape during that 3 week walkabout? Photo © Tes Randle Jolly

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