Rio Grande Turkey Habitat


In Texas, where Rio Grande turkey populations are abundant, this species of turkey typically roost in the tallest live oak or cottonwood trees on ranches, especially trees over creeks, rivers, and over springs. In areas where large trees are lacking, they will often nest in trees found in big draws in close proximity to water. In addition, flat topography with a lack of old-growth trees means Rio Grande turkeys will roost on power poles and even fence posts. Thus, successful Rio Grande turkey management means that your property should provide either natural or artificial roosting areas for these birds. Without suitable roost sites, birds will not use the area.

In the more northern parts of their range, such as eastern Colorado or Kansas, Rio Grande turkeys roost in cottonwood, sycamore, and hackberry trees along streams and sometimes adjacent to grain fields. During the fall and winter, it is not uncommon to find 100 or more birds filling a single small stand of big trees. In Texas, there have been reports of 300+ birds using one roost site! Because this subspecies is gregarious, during the spring a hunter may see 20 or more toms with gaggles of hens and jakes roosting together in tall oaks or cottonwoods.

Rio Grande turkey strut just about anywhere and everywhere in their open habitat during the spring mating season. Many gobblers prefer open sections of crop fields or pastures near creeks or stock tanks, especially if thick turkey nesting cover is adjacent the area. Later in the morning and into afternoon, turkeys will loaf and feed in cool, shady oak groves. Understanding the habitat needs of Rio Grande turkey is important for the successful management of this wild turkey species.

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Turkey Hunting and Management