Rio Grande wild turkeys nest on the ground within grass clumps, leaf litter, brush piles, or understory vegetation. A shallow depression is scratched out of the leaf litter or ground cover for a nest bowl. Although a wide variety of habitat measures have been evaluated , nest sites are believed to be selected for their concealing cover and their proximity to a permanent water source. Woody plants, herbaceous vegetation, brush piles, vines, or agricultural crops 18 inches or taller provide optimal lateral screening cover.
Research studies have found a positive relationship between turkey reproductive success and herbaceous cover. Density and structure of vegetation may moderate turkey nest predation. And it makes sense that nests built and incubated in dense cover have higher survival rates than those in sparse cover. Although dense cover is desired as nesting habitat, patches of nesting cover across and landscape are preferred for Rio Grande Turkey.
Rio Grande turkey nests are often closely associated with available water. In one study, 85% of nests in the Hill Country of Texas were found within a quarter mile of a water source. Similar results were obtained in other parts of the Rio Grande turkey’s range.