Seasonal Behavior of Rio Grande Wild Turkeys in Western Oklahoma

Rio Grande turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) were studied in Roger Mills and Beckham Counties from fall 1966 to fall 1969. Three hundred and eight turkeys were trapped and individually marked, and physical measurements were made. Radio transmitters were placed on 31 turkeys. Tagged turkeys were observed 333 times on spring and summer ranges. Daily ranges of spring flocks varied from 160 to 379 acres. Total number of turkeys in the winter flock varied from approximately 280 to 368 birds. Size of winter headquarters area varied from 351 to 507 acres, and spring range included approximately 60,000 acres. Removal of trees on a portion of the winter area in fall of 1968 had a marked effect on daily activities on the winter flock and size of the winter area. During spring dispersal and winter flock formation, an exchange of members from different winter flocks occurred. Although most courtship occurred on the winter area, mating took place after spring breakup and dispersal and continued until onset of incubation. No gobbling territories or gobbler harems existed on spring areas. Most hen flocks were accompanied by at least one adult gobbler which was dominant over other gobblers present. Data were collected on 30 nest sites. Majority of nests were located in three types of sites; alfalfa bottoms, eroded ravine banks and brushy hillsides. Hens with poults began joining brood flocks when their poults were as young as 2 weeks old. Strong social relationships developed within brood flocks and care of broods was shared among adult hens of the flocks. Poults/ hen ratios averaged 5 poults/I hen during July - September of 1967-1968.

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