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What Summer Looks Like for Wild Turkeys

This Turkey Tuesday is about the doldrums of summer and what that looks like in the wild turkey world. The sweltering heat of summer prompts changes in how turkeys behave, with toms and unsuccessful hens forming small groups of the same sex that will soon start forming larger flocks in the fall. But for now, the name of the game is find an area of your home range with cooler temperatures, water, and quality foraging resources. The 2nd image shows how birds typically behave as spring turns to hot summer. On the left, you see this tom using a number of roosts (blue dots) and spending time during the day at many locations (green dots) – note the arrow pointing to a small opening adjacent to an area of bottomland hardwoods. On the right, you see how he starts to hunker down and use less space, really concentrating both his movements and roost sites in those hardwoods and around that opening. Research has shown that turkeys will select areas with cooler temperatures during summer, and if you’ve ever spent time in my neck of the woods, you know bottomland hardwoods offer you a bit of a reprieve when the heat gets ramped up. The result is, you may not have turkeys on your property at any time of the year, and then suddenly a small group shows up for a few months during the hottest part of summer, and then they’re gone again. The take home is, in some ways turkeys deal with the heat of summer like we do – find the coolest place you can, lay low, and keep an eye towards fall when it’ll be time to get moving again.

Pic of toms © Tes Randle Jolly

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