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Not All Roost Sites are the Same

This Turkey Tuesday is about the idea that not all roost sites are the same – some appear to be more important than others. Us turkey hunters who have chased Rio Grande and Merriam’s wild turkeys have observed that birds often return to the same roosts night after night, like the Rio Grande tom in this picture from Jake Curtis. Obviously, this results from the fact that suitable roost sites are more limited in the places those birds call home. Conversely, research has shown that Easterns are less prone to this behavior, and although some toms have a small number of roosts they use repeatedly, most scatter their roost sites all over their home ranges during spring. Ongoing research suggests that some roosts, which some call hub roosts, appear more important than others during breeding season. I touched on this briefly in a previous post, we don’t yet know why toms vary in how they select roosts but these images will help show what that variation looks like. Hub roosts likely provide toms with the perfect mixture of protection, the ability to project gobbles across the area around them, and access to hens that may be receptive. I speculate that when toms use these roosts, they may have different behaviors once they fly down than when they use other roosts – we shall see. The 2nd image shows roost locations of a tom during March and April – notice that the yellow dots are roosts used only once or twice. But the orange and red dots, those are roosts that are used more often, and for this particular tom – they’re not that far apart. The 3rd image shows roost locations of a second tom, this guy revisits quite a few roosts more often than others, and these roosts are widely distributed within his range. The take home is, it’s plausible that toms could have different strategies for how they behave on certain days based on whether they’re at one of these hub roosts. Hopefully we’ll have answers soon, roosting behaviors are something that interest every turkey hunter because our hunt often starts as the first gobbles emanate from those roosts!

 

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