The Osceola turkey (or Florida turkey) of central and southern Florida roost in moss-laden cypress trees that grow in or on the edges of swamps, ponds, or flooded creek bottoms. Because of their boggy roost habitat and this turkey species strong desire to roost over water, Florida birds often fly 100 to 200 yards or more at first light. It is often that far from their roosting area to the first piece of dry, open ground. After leaving the roost site, Osceola turkey will move into native grasslands, pastures, and burned areas to feed and search for nesting sites, depending upon the season.
The reproductive cycle for the Osceola turkey begins only slightly earlier than for the eastern wild turkey in other southern states. However, in southern Florida, turkeys will begin gobbling during warmer days in January. This may take place several weeks before actual mating by this turkey species. Egg laying takes place in April with the nesting cycle complete in about 1 month, with peak hatching occurring in May.
During the fall turkeys will be feed in the same areas again and again, but during the spring they will use those sites for srutting and breeding. In March and April, when the sun is overhead during the mid-morning and afternoon, Osceola gobblers will move into shady palmetto hammocks and hardwood bottoms to strut for feeding and nesting hens. Males will gobble to attract receptive hens and it is at this time that breeding takes place.
Because the population of this subpspecies is relatively small, turkey management that provides optimal habitat is crucial for Osceola turkey. If you need more information on this turkey supspecies, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.