Nesting. Brood Range. And Reproductive Success Of An Insular Turkey Population

A study of nesting and brood rearing in a coastal island wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) population was conducted in Georgia from 1975 through 1977. Thirty-nine hens were instrumented during the 3 years. Pre-nesting movements and nesting ranges were determined for 9 hens in 1977. Average maximum straight-line movement for the 9 was 4.60 km; movements from release sites to nests averaged 2.38 km. Twenty-seven of the hens were known to nest. Twentv-two nests were located by telemetry fixes on incubating hens and I nest was found incidentally. Fourteen hens selected similar nest sites in saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) dominated habitat. Two others nested in similar forest type under clumps of perennial vegetation. Four nests were located in oak-pine forest and 3 others were found in open situations. Predators destroyed 6 nests; I was abandoned for unknown reasons. Nest clustering appeared to be influenced by both habitat selection and sociological factors. Hens nesting in saw palmetto showed strong preference for locating near burned areas. Preference was also demonstrated for nesting in close proximity to firebreaks and game trails. Fifteen telemetered broods were tracked. Most broods hatching in saw palmetto habitat roosted their first night in saw palmetto then moved into heavily forested areas. Extensive movements were recorded for most broods at some time during the first 5 days. Older broods showed strong preference for old field situations. Early poult mortality occurred during the study period with an average observed survival of 1.7 poults per successfully nesting hen.

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