This Turkey Tuesday is about extraordinary movements of translocated wild turkeys. The restoration of wild turkeys throughout their North American range relied on translocation of birds from extant populations to areas where birds didn’t exist or were at low abundance. Some state agencies, like Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, are still translocating birds to establish populations – work has been ongoing to release birds into vacant, suitable habitats in east Texas. Previous research has shown that once released, birds move quite a bit but settle down after a few weeks. Within about 2 months, work has shown that released birds typically settle into a home range where they exhibit consistent daily movements. Well, just like in all aspects of our world, there are always exceptions to the norm! Data collected by Chad Argabright, who works with Bret Collier, on 2 hens captured in Maine, then released in east Texas, shows some pretty extraordinary movements. Both hens were released on January 27 west of Lufkin. During late February, the first hen decided to start walking and her movements ended up covering an area of 181 square miles. Likewise, the second hen decided to start her hike in mid-March, and her movements covered an area of 282 square miles! She also used several rights of way to travel, crossed several large highways, nearly reached Nacogdoches at one point, and navigated around several suburban areas. The take home is, wild turkeys are adaptable and capable of covering some serious ground when motivated to do so – when winter flocks started to dissolve these 2 hens seemed to be motivated. One can only imagine what these 2 hens saw and heard during their travels.
Picture of hens walking © Tes Randle Jolly