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Learning More About Gould’s Wild Turkeys

This Turkey Tuesday is about what we’re learning about Gould’s wild turkeys, the most poorly understood subspecies. Gould’s are found primarily in Mexico, but they do occur in New Mexico and Arizona as managers work to continue restoring populations in those states. This bird lives in some rugged, stunning places that are basically isolated islands of habitat which makes dispersal of birds from one population to the next rare. Recent work has revealed some interesting aspects of Gould’s behavior that really applies to ongoing restoration efforts. One, birds concentrate their use in pine forests and not surprisingly, near sources of water. Two, they select areas to forage and roost primarily on north facing slopes – these slopes have more moisture that results in improved vegetation than on south facing slopes. Three, Gould’s select areas with moderate rather than steeper slopes, and they spend most of their time at elevations ranging from 4500 to 6000 feet. The take home is, wild turkeys are adaptable and thrive in a wide set of conditions, but Gould’s live in some arid and rugged places – it appears that what defines their preferred habitats in these places is becoming increasingly more clear. If you’re interested in several recent studies on Gould’s, check out https://wildturkeylab.com/category/research/ and search on Gould’s.

Pic by Stephen Spurlock

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