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Fall Shuffle of Wild Turkeys

THROWBACK TT Sept 21, 2021 | This Turkey Tuesday is about the fall shuffle. Ever wonder why you see turkeys consistently in spring/summer and then they disappear during fall, or vice versa? The reason is simple – when the leaves start turning colors, wild turkeys typically shift their home ranges. This shift comes as turkeys enter winter flocks and focus their attention solely on food and safety. Fall foods are dominated by acorns in forested landscapes and waste grain in agricultural landscapes. With breeding and reproduction in the rear-view mirror, turkeys shift their activities to areas where acorns and other grains are available – and they do that in groups as there is safety in numbers. As you can see in the 2nd image, this bird shifted her range just enough that her and her flock members likely seemed to just disappear from the properties they had been using before fall began. The take home is, if you’re interested in managing your property for turkeys just recognize that the fall shuffle is normal. If the shuffle causes birds to leave your property, identify areas where they likely went and seek cooperation with those neighbors to manage their properties to benefit turkeys. If birds show up on your property as a result of the fall shuffle, seek ways to conserve and manage the resources they’re seeking – identify and preserve quality roosting areas, manage and conserve hardwood forests that provide hard mast, and consider the distribution of agricultural crops relative to roosting and security cover.

Photo © Tes Randle Jolly

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