Research proves wild turkeys must have good nesting and brood-rearing habitat to sustain healthy populations. Our habitat management projects have supported the wild turkey for decades, but turkeys aren’t the only species that benefits from the work we do.
The characteristics of good nesting and brood habitat are very similar throughout the country. The habitat must:
- have good cover that provides overhead protection from avian predators
- have thick cover to make it hard for ground-dwelling predators to find the nest
- be located near open, grassy areas filled with insects to limit long-distance travel when poults are in search of protein
Many other species benefit from the same habitat management projects that produce excellent nesting and brood habitat for wild turkeys. With similar interests, NWTF has many potential partners and cooperators to work with to create or restore the early successional (young forest growth) habitat many species require.
Below are examples of species that benefit from habitat improvements favored by wild turkeys:
- Golden-winged warbler- This species requires young, thick shrub habitat and has declined, in part, due to the lack of this habitat type. Biologists and foresters with the NWTF are actively engaged in writing young forest management plans for private landowners who want to help the warblers. Not coincidentally, wild turkeys also appreciate the specific habitat type.
- Native plants in areas along the Red and Canadian rivers in Oklahoma- Invasive species, such as Russian olive and red cedar, are choking out native species which used to be prime production areas for wild turkeys, Mississippi kite, Bell’s vireo, painted buntings and northern bobwhite quail. For the sake of these birds, and other species, the NWTF is working with Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Playa Lakes Joint Venture to remove the invasive species and restore the habitat to full wildlife productivity.
- The Pine Ridge region of Nebraska and the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep- The Ponderosa pine area is susceptible to intense, stand-replacement wildfires, which may greatly reduce habitat value for wild turkeys and other species. The NWTF and a few partners are limiting the risk of wildfires by thinning the area to reduce stand density and by improving existing fire access roads, which will allow fire fighters to suppress fires and also provides daylight to the forest floor. Both methods promote the growth f desired grasses and forbs which are beneficial to brood rearing.
- A whole suite of species on the Deschutes National Forest (Wild turkeys, mule deer, bald eagles, white-headed woodpeckers and newly reintroduced mountain quail)- Work is underway to thin overly dense conifer stands, reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, remove noxious weeds and increase forage production for many species.
The NWTF is improving and enhancing habitat through research, identifying limiting factors, addressing threats, creating working partnerships with other conservation groups and agencies, along with work on the ground. This way, wild turkeys, a whole host of other wildlife and the American hunter will win.
Article by the National Wild Turkey Federation.