Use Caution When Approaching an Agressive Turkey
Reports of aggressive wild turkey behavior are not at all unusual. Turkeys have been known to “stalk” humans and pets. Because they follow, literally, a “pecking order” within their own species, they will consider humans to be inferior and will go to great lengths to assert their dominance.
Turkey Nuisance Complaints and Damage
Many of the wild turkey complaints concern agricultural damage, involving corn or
winter wheat, but there are cases of turkeys causing problems in nonagricultural situations.
Such complaints include damage to golf greens, stored silage, vineyards and hazards to aircraft when turkeys are on runways, eating grapes in vineyards, pecking holes in silage storage bags, harvested ear corn stored in outside cribs seed and mature standing corn, wheat, rye, and oats, clover and alfalfa seed and seedlings, especially digging up roots, tearing up turf on golf greens and newly-established lawns, digging up residential gardens and consuming vegetables and flower bulbs, acting aggressively toward people, damaging cars by scratching and pecking.
Airport managers are understandably concerned about turkeys near runways, as a turkey strike to an aircraft can result in significant structural damage to the plane, and endanger theoccupants. Because turkeys are large, conspicuous, and active in daytime, they are easily seen. In some cases, they may appear to be damaging crops when they are actually feeding on insects. Turkeys are often blamed for agriculturaldamage caused by other species such as raccoon and deer.
Best Practices for Nuisance Wildlife Control of Problem Turkeys
Turkeys can be very persistent, and efforts to control them must be just as persistent. Sometimes just removing or covering an attraction will solve a nuisance problem. Situations related to seasonal territoriality may be resolved in this way by temporarily removing an item such as a car, or by covering reflective surfaces with non-reflective material for a fewweeks.
If turkeys are digging up flower bulbs or certain vegetables in a garden, landowners may want to consider planting alternate species that are less attractive to turkeys. Short of removing the attractant altogether, the next best thing is a physical barrier of some kind between the attractant and the birds themselves. Since turkeys can fly quite well, the best barriers are those that totally enclose the attractant.
Don’t feed turkeys. Feeding, whether direct or indirect, can cause turkeys to act tame and may lead to bold or aggressive behavior, especially in the breeding season.
Keep bird feeder areas clean. Use feeders designed to keep seed off the ground, as the seed attracts turkeys and other wild animals. Clean up spilled seed from other types of feeders daily. Remove feeders in the spring, as there is plenty of natural food available for all birds.
Don’t let turkeys intimidate you. Don’t hesitate to scare or threaten a bold, aggressive turkey with loud noises, swatting with a broom or water sprayed from a hose. A dog on a leash is also an effective deterrent.
Cover windows or other reflective objects. If a turkey is pecking at a shiny object such as a vehicle or window, cover or otherwise disguise the object. Harass the bird by chasing it, squirting with a hose or other means of aggression.
Protect your gardens and crops. You can harass turkeys searching for food in your gardens. Dogs tethered on a run can also be effective in scaring turkeys away from gardens. Netting is another option to employ. In agricultural situations, some scare devices are effective.
Educate your neighbors. Your efforts will be futile if neighbors are providing food for turkeys or neglecting to act boldly towards the birds. It requires the efforts of the entire neighborhood to help keep wild turkeys wild. Turkeys are important and valuable birds in new york. They are classified as game birds for which regulated hunting seasons and management programs have been established. If you are experiencing problems with turkeys or have any questions regarding them, contact Westchester Wildlife.
Description Wild Turkey
The Eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo sylvestris) is a large and truly magnificent bird. Adult males, also called “toms” or “gobblers,” have red, blue and white skin on the head during the spring breeding display. They have a long beard of hair-like feathers on their chests and leg spurs that can be from ½ inch to 1 ½ inches long. Their call is a gobble. The tom has a dark black-brown body. Mature males are about 2 ½ feet tall and weigh up to 25 lbs. The average weight is 18 to 20 lbs.
The females (hens) are smaller than toms and weigh 9 to 12 lbs. Hens have a rusty-brown body and a blue-gray head. Less than 15% of females have a beard, and less than 1% have spurs. The hen makes a yelp or clucking noise.
Breeding Season of the Wild Turkey
The turkey breeding season begins in early April and continues through early June.
During this time, the toms perform courtship displays — strutting, fluffing their feathers, dragging their wings and gobbling — all in an effort to attract willing hens. A single tom will mate withmany hens.
After mating, the hen goes off by herself to nest. Her loosely formed nest is usually in a wooded area, but can be in brush or an open field. Over a 2-week period, the hen lays 10 to 12 eggs which hatch after 28 days of incubation, usually late May or early June. The hen moves her brood into grassy areas where the young poults can feed on the abundant supply of insects. Thepoults can fly when they are about 2 to 3 weeks old; from then on they will roost in trees at night.
During midsummer, 2 or more broods will often merge together to form a flock. These
flocks range over a wide area and move around frequently in search of food. In late summer and early fall, the flocks begin to spend more and more time in the woodlands feeding on fruits, seeds, nuts, and acorns.
During the winter, turkeys reduce their range, diminish their daily activities and often
form large flocks. They frequently spend time in valley farm fields feeding on waste grain and manure spread by the farmers. Spring seeps, which are usually free of ice and snow, are also favorite feeding areas. When a severe winter storms strikes, turkeys can spend as much as a week or more on the roost, waiting the weather out. Studies have shown that healthy wild turkeys can live up to 2 weeks without food.