Gobble, gobble! This is the sound from the recognizable Wild Turkey with its distinct characteristics of a fan-like tail, pink legs, and curvy bill. Even though Wild Turkeys are a common topic during Thanksgiving and Christmas, they are seen all year round. Despite their popularity during the holidays, Wild Turkeys may be overlooked as key organisms in the environment. Therefore, it is important to maintain the health and conditions of wild turkeys and their habitats. One key responsibility of humans is to give the wild turkey food that will provide them with adequate nutrients. Now, you may be wondering what foods you should feed these animals. Fortunately, today we will be going over just that, especially since Turkeys are known to forage frequently for a diverse diet – feeding on both vegetation and animals like lizards, snakes, snails, worms, and slugs. Overall, a Wild Turkey’s diet is made of 90% plants and 10% animals.
Turkeys live in hardwood forests, preferably areas composed of 30-50% of mature forests. Hardwood forests have an abundance of mast or acorns for turkeys to eat. They are seen eating acorns during the fall and winter that have fallen on the forest floor, carving out a V-shaped scratching. Therefore, plants on the floor not only provide food but also creates a wild turkey’s natural habitat. They may also consume nuts like hickory nuts, beechnuts or walnuts. Since their diets rely heavily on nuts, you may want to plant more native oats such as chestnut oak, red oak, and black oak. Not only does native oak benefit Turkeys but it can also be a food source for other animals.
Turkeys eat seeds from grasses and sedges during the springtime. Insects that feed on plants may also be a good source of wild turkey food. They may even consume fern stalks and frond. While you can feed turkeys agricultural foods such as birdseed, corn, or wheat, this may attract animals like Songbirds that are territorial, so be cautious of using seeds from bird feeders as opposed to seeds from plants.
In addition, we encourage planting clover and winter wheat, providing green forage from winter to spring. Then as the temperature gets warmer for spring to summer, these plants can attract insects into Turkey’s habitats. Furthermore, we recommend growing wild grapes and field corn for the winter.
Turkeys play such a crucial role in the environment, so it is important to give wild turkeys food to establish a healthy habitat and to ensure the peak condition of their ecosystem. Let us know if you found this guide to preserving the diet and lifestyle of wild turkeys to be helpful. Thank you for reading, and we are ecstatic to give you more information on our next blog! In the meantime, check out our other blogs here and you can help preserve the habitat and diet of other animals!