Electronic Field Guide » Featured Wildlife Species » Wild Turkey » Annotated Bibliography

Prepared by Kevin Yoder and Margaret Brittingham (Ecosystem Science and Management)  
Brenneman, R., and H. Daniel.  Planting legumes for wildlife.  National Wild Turkey Federation Wildlife Bulletin 9. www.nwtf.org/conservation/bulletins/bulletin_09.pdf
Legumes are a group of plants that are members of the Fabaceae plant family. Most legumes produce an abundance of high quality forage that is readily used by many species of wildlife.  Turkeys use legumes by feeding on the leaves and flower heads, and on insects and other invertebrates that live on the plants.  This article covers many aspects of creating herbaceous openings with legumes.  Site preparation, species selection, and planting are just some of the topics discussed.  
Burhans, B. Winter wild turkey habitat.  Farming for Wildlife.  http://farmingforwildlife.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=84&Itemid=1
Winter is the toughest time for wild animals. There is a high demand for calories to produce body heat, and snow can affect the availability of food and the ability of wild animals to move.  Winter habitat can be improved through planting winter food plots, establishing trees and shrubs that hold fruit through winter, and planting conifers for thermal cover. 

Casalena, M.J.  2006.  Management plan for wild turkeys in Pennsylvania: 2006–2015.  Pennsylvania Game Commission, Harrisburg, PA. http://tinyurl.com/mnmcrwe
Pennsylvania’s wild turkey management plan outlines the strategies that the Pennsylvania Game Commission should follow to best manage the state’s turkey population.  The plan includes a literature review of habitat relationships and correlates that information specifically to Pennsylvania.  The wild turkey habitat needs that are reviewed include nesting habitat, brood range, fall habitat, and winter habitat.  Managers should refer to this article to understand wild turkey needs specific to Pennsylvania. 
Dickson, J.G., editor.  1992.  The wild turkey: biology and management.  Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA. http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Turkey-Biology-Management/dp/081171859X
The goal of this book is to synthesize, summarize, and present in semitechnical style the best available information on the ecology and management of the wild turkey.  This book is organized into four general sections: (1) introduction, history, and taxonomy; (2) biology; (3) habitat and management; and (4) use and projections for the future.  There are 24 chapters and 24 authors.  Although each chapter has been edited for consistency, there are some different perspectives and conclusions.

http://www.panwtf.org="">Healy, W.M. 1985. Turkey poult feeding activity, invertebrate abundance, and vegetation structure. Journal of Wildlife Management 49: 466-472.

Abstract: Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) broods use a variety of permanent openings and forest types, but there are few descriptions of the ground cover that is most suitable within a particular plant community. In West Virginia, feeding activity of poults up to 4 weeks old and abundance of invertebrates increased across a gradient of ground cover abundance. Oak (Quercus spp.) stands on dry sites produced intermediate levels of herbaceous vegetation and few invertebrates. These stands provided adequate brood range, and management could enhance their value for poutls. Herbaceous vegetation and invertebrates were most abundant in clearings maintained for wildlife, but poult feeding decreased where vegetation was most abundant because poults could not move through it. Life form, percent cover, and height of ground cover can be used to define early brood range in forested and open sites.

Healy, W.M., and E.S. Nenno.  1983.  Minimum maintenance versus intensive management of clearing for wild turkey.  Wildlife Society Bulletin 11: 113-120.
Abstract: Because most northeastern states either have or have had clearing-management programs, we discuss both the management of individual clearings for turkeys and the broader problems of integrating clearing programs with managing eastern-hardwood forests.  We focus on forest land where soils are generally unsuited for agriculture and permanent openings are scarce.  To benefit turkeys, we recommend managing clearings for early brood range by using the simplest method that maintains the herbaceous community.  For most wildlife clearings in the oak-hickory and northern hardwood forests in West Virginia, mowing late in the growing season every 1 or 2 years is adequate to maintain grass/forb cover and prevent the invasion of trees.  Managing most eastern-hardwood forests for turkeys will involve some maintenance of existing clearings.  As a group, clearings provided better feeding sites for poults than either clearcuts or older forest stands, but the relationships between clearings and forest stands are influenced by site quality.  Many excellent sites produce the herbaceous vegetation required by poults without any management, but poor sites may produce the desired herbaceous vegetation only in permanent clearings.  Although we recognize that clearings provide many benefits for turkeys, we generally emphasize managing forest clearings to meet the needs of poults during the first month of life.  Young poults have high mortality rates, small home ranges, specialized diets, and narrow habitat requirements relative to older poults and adults.  A variety of forest types, age classes, and stand conditions can provide late summer brood range.  Because we emphasize early brood range, we would consider maintaining areas <0.5 ha.  Young broods often spend most of their time within a few hectares for a week or more.  We believe maintaining small units is feasible where the unit forms a complex of seeded roads, log landings, and clearings.  In the northeast, cutting units are often <10 ha, existing fields are small, and forest roads are closely spaced.  Here, we believe there will be more opportunity to manage brood range on forest roads, log landings, and existing clearings than to construct new large clearings.
Hurst, G.A., and B.D. Stringer, Jr.  1975.  Food habits of wild turkey poults in Mississippi.  Proceedings of the National Wild Turkey Symposium 3:76-85.
Abstract:  Eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) poults, age 3-38 days, fed on a variety of habitats, but mostly along the edges of hayfields, pastures, or roadsides and in various forest types.  The ratio of animal to plant food was 79:21 for poults in the 3- to 7-day age class, 54:46 in age class 8 to 14 days; 37:63 in age class 15 to 21 days; and 13:87 for poults 22 to 38 days old.  Insects such as beetles, true bugs, and grasshoppers accounted for 83 percent of the total animal food, followed by snails, spiders, and pill bugs.  Seeds from Carex spp. and Rubus spp. were the most important plant food items.  Of lesser importance were seeds from Scleria spp., Vicia spp., miscellaneous grasses, and forbs.
Kilpatrick, H.J., T.P. Husband, and C.A. Pringle.  1988.  Winter roost site characteristics of eastern wild turkeys.  Journal of Wildlife Management 52: 461–463.
Abstract: We compared 9 winter roost sites used by eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) in Rhode Island to 9 random plots.  Roost sites were closer (P < 0.001) to open water than random plots.  White pine (Pinus strobus) and oaks (Quercus spp.) comprised 43.7 and 24.2%, respectively, of trees within roost sites and 24.3 and 46.7%, respectively, of trees on control plots.  Mean diameter at breast height (dbh) of roost trees was larger (P < 0.001) than trees on control plots.  Of 25 roost trees, 23 were white pines and 2 were eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis).  Stands with white pines >48 cm dbh within 39.8 m of water were used for winter roosting before other sites.
Korschgen, L.J.  1973.  April foods of wild turkey in Missouri.  Pages 143-150 in Sanderson, G.C., and H.C. Schultz, editors.  Wild turkey management: current problems and programs. The Missouri Chapter of The Wildlife Society and University of Missouri Press, Columbia.
Abstract:  April foods of the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) in Missouri were ascertained from analyses of crop and gizzard samples from 698 gobblers collected during late April hunt seasons of 1960, 1963–1965, inclusive.  Samples from 16 hens provided limited information for comparison.  Plant foods of 101 kinds and 35 animal foods were identified.  Oak mast (Quercus spp.) comprised 49.8 percent and corn (Zea mays) 12.4 percent of all food consumed by gobblers.  Green leaves and plant parts accounted for 7.9 percent, and green grass and sedge leaves, 3.9 percent.  Other important foods and volume percentages were: fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica), 3.3; oats (Avena sativa), 3.2; sedges (Carex spp.), 3.0; buttercups (Ranunculus spp.), 2.0; galls, 1.6; flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), 1.1; black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), 1.0; wild cherry (Prunus serotina), 1.0; and scarab beetles (Scarabaeidae), 1.3 percent.  Foods of gobblers and hens did not differ materially, except that hens consumed a larger proportion of snails.  Sources of April turkey foods by plant type and volume percentages were: trees, 53.6; farm crops, 16.6; native forbs, 13.4; native grasses, 3.9; shrubs, 3.7; sedges, 3.1; and vines, 0.8.  Animal foods accounted for less than 3 percent of average diets.  Management for food production should be directed toward establishing and maintaining diversified habitat types within the annual range of turkeys.  Succulent green forage is important and heavily utilized by turkeys in spring.
Martin, D.D., and B.S. McGinnes.  1975.  Insect availability and use by turkeys in forest clearings.  Proceedings of the National Wild Turkey Symposium 3: 70-75.
Abstract:  Insect availability in forest wildlife clearings and under the forest canopy was evaluated in southwest Virginia from May to October 1971.  Three age-groups of 120 domestic turkey poults were allowed to feed in four forest wildlife clearings and four matching plots under a nearby forest canopy.  Crop and gizzard contents revealed no significant difference in the amount of insects eaten by the poults in clearings and forest plots, but showed that more vegetation was eaten in clearings by the oldest poults.  Protein and calories were higher in insects than in the other food items examined. There were 25 times more insects present in the clearings than beneath the forest canopy. 
National Wild Turkey Federation. Wildlife Bulletins.
Topics include Eastern wild turkey, planting legumes, planting for wild turkey, wildlife habitat development on reclaimed lands, rights-of-way for turkey, and spring seep management for wild turkey and other wildlife, among others.

Pennsylvania Game Commission. Mowing and wildlife: Managing open space for wildlife species. http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=699845&mode=2

Many property owners want clean-cut, attractive lawns or fields. However, what appears to be a healthy lawn to property owners isn't necessarily the best option for wildlife. Continual mowing can reduce or remove valuable habitat and discourage many wildlife species from visiting a landowner's property. However, when properly used, mowing can be a useful habitat management tool.

Pennsylvania Game Commission. Wild turkey habitat management. http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/document/908710/wild_turkey_habitat_management.pdf

Many people throughout the northeastern United States want to manage their land to benefit turkeys. Turkeys do best in areas with a wide variety of habitat types and plant species. Turkeys in the Northeast have three critical habitat needs that may be in short supply: 1) good nesting habitat, 2) good brood-rearing habitat, and 3) a good winter food source. If those needs are met, interspersed with mature woodland, there is a good probability of having wild turkeys in the area.