Turkey Reproduction

In: Science

Turkey Reproduction

Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) ecology has been examined within its native
range, but knowledge of extralimital populations of Rio Grande wild turkeys (M. g.
intermedia) is lacking. I investigated habitat use, characteristics of activity sites, home
ranges and movements, productivity, and survival of Rio Grande turkey hens from 1989
through 1991. I obtained >6,000 locations of 76 radio-tagged hens in Douglas County,
Oregon and quantified characteristics of 99 roosts, 126 nests, and 64 brood-rearing sites.
Turkeys selectively used meadows and hardwood/conifer cover types during
winter and summer (P < 0.05). Adult hens roosted in dense young conifer stands more
often than expected throughout the year; hardwood/conifer woodlands were used more
than expected for roosting by all flocks (P < 0.05). Hens nested in 8 of 10 cover types;
recent clearcuts were used more than expected (P < 0.05). Use of meadows and
hardwood/conifer habitats by brood hens exceeded availability (P < 0.05). Dense
sapling/pole and mature conifer stands were used less than expected at all times (P <
0.05).
Adults roosted in Douglas firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii) more than expected (P <
0.05), but hen-poult flocks roosted in tree species in proportion to availability (P > 0.50).
Nest sites were characterized by relatively dense understory, but no relationship was
observed between nest success and vegetation characteristics. Brood-rearing sites had
sparse horizontal screening and moderate vegetative cover.
The overall nesting rate was 97% and renesting accounted for 17% of poults
hatched. In contrast to other populations, renesting after brood loss was common among
adult hens. Annual survival rates varied among years (0.50 to 0.89) but did not differ
between adults and yearlings (P > 0.17).
Prescribed burning to reduce dense shrub cover should improve stands for nesting
and brood rearing. Maintaining or increasing areas of mixed hardwood/conifer cover
types would ensure...

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