Providing good habitat is an essential component of successful turkey management. The saying is true, “If you build it, they will come.” Although it’s easy to talk the talk, it is harder to walk to walk. Turkey require different habitat components at various times of the year, but all are required to meet the annual needs of individual turkeys as well as flocks. Regardless of the subspecies, two major components are necessary for turkey populations to surive and thrive. The biggest components that define suitable turkey habitat are usable space and interpersion of habitat types.
Habitat types consist of woodlands or forests, grasslands, brushland, and improved pastures. Some habitat types are more important than others, but interspersion is more important than quantity. In short, it’s better to have a bunch of smaller habitat types adjacent to one another than large blocks of habitat types next to one another. Within proper habitat, wild turkey populations can fulfill all of their biological requirements.
Turkeys are often found near the edge of differing habitats, such as woodland areas and grassland areas. The proximity of multiple habitats provides turkeys with opportunities to quickly escape from predators and with shaded areas for loafing during warm days. Woodlands with high canopies and wide crowns provide ideal aras for loafing. However, bottomlands such as creek or river drainages are great places for locating turkey roost. Although the areas may differ because, both are important habitat types.
Roost sites are critical habitat requirements for wild turkey and are a year-round necessity. The importance of winter roost sites has been well documented. Turkey species congregate at communal winter roost sites typically located along a stream, river, or over a lake or swamp. Depending upon the turkey species, tree height is the dominant factor in roost site selection. Tree height isolates roosting turkeys from ground-dwelling predators and provides a line of sight to detect approaching predators. Larger trees (diameter at base) typically have larger, taller limbs that could support roosting turkeys. To maintain a wild turkey population in your area, all of the components that comprise good turkey habitat must be available.