3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

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mark hay
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby mark hay » January 24th, 2011, 10:00 am

We only have about 5-6 inches on the ground right now . But in a well cut beanfield there is not one sprig of beans nor weeds sticking up out of the snow . Just thirty minutes ago I spotted 7 longbeards out on a hilltop in this beanfield . They had a fairly good size piece of ground scratched up . The spot they were in was at least 100 yards from any trees .
 I understand there is quite a difference between scratching in 6 inches and 36 inches . I think they know where the ground is and that they can generally find something there, if they can get to it  . I do find it amazing that turkeys can survive in huntable numbers in a place like Wisconsin and the other northern areas where they flourish.

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mark hay
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby mark hay » January 25th, 2011, 9:47 am

When it's time for one of those old clutch squattin' hens to roll each egg over is it pure instinct or is there some memory involved that keeps her from rolling the same egg twice and skipping another ?
 
 We've all probably read that turkeys have no sense of smell . Does that mean they can't taste what they eat ? They seem to favor the white oak acorns over the red oak mast . Is it due to taste ?
 
 

charlie elk
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby charlie elk » January 25th, 2011, 10:26 am

I do find it amazing that turkeys can survive in huntable numbers in a place like Wisconsin and the other northern areas where they flourish.

Not only a hunt-able population; WI is a contender for the state with the most turkeys in the nation.  WI edged out the turkey hunting powerhouse Missouri in harvest. 
Mark you got me to thinking about the evolution of the turkeys.  Do you suppose the turkeys in WI have evolved into a stronger more resilient bird compared to its southern cousins? 

When it's time for one of those old clutch squattin' hens to roll each egg over is it pure instinct or is there some memory involved that keeps her from rolling the same egg twice and skipping another ?
 
 We've all probably read that turkeys have no sense of smell . Does that mean they can't taste what they eat ? They seem to favor the white oak acorns over the red oak mast . Is it due to taste ?

Haven't figured out the finding food yet and you throw all these questions at us. [:-]

Smell ability- yes to a degree certainly not like a deer.  When manure gets spread turkeys come from all around for some hot lunch.  Seagulls can smell a caught fish from miles away, turkey vultures smell carrion and numerous other song birds smell flower nectar.
Taste -- I've seen turkeys peck up things and spit them back out. Like Asian Beetles.  So there must be some kind of taste ability.
Rolling the same egg  -- How do you know they don't roll the same egg?


This picture will give an idea of the snow the turkeys are dealing with. 

Image
Image
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby kenturkey89 » January 25th, 2011, 10:57 am

Mark, those are some excellent questions and I'm not sure if I can provide an answer but I'll throw my own $.02 in.

As far as how a hen knows when to rotate her eggs during incubation, that has to be purely inherited maternal instinct, because that is not a learned behavior that a turkey picks up during any point in her life. It's not like she gets to watch her mother rotate her brothers and sisters because she's trapped in an egg herself. After she hatches she's still unable to watch her mother rotate eggs because the rest of the clutch would already be born. By the time that little hen's able to watch her mother on another clutch would be the following year, and I'm sure her momma would already have ran her off by then. As far as the mechanism of how the hen knows which eggs she has turned, I'm not exactly sure. Could be due to both instincts and memory. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if a hen has a good enough short term memory to remember which eggs she already rotated. And I'm sure there's cases where a hen forgets to roll one egg or may roll the same egg twice...everybody makes mistakes.

Moving on to smell and taste, I agree with Charlie that a turkey can smell, even if it's at a basal level. It's not anything close to that of mammals, but I do believe that a turkey has a slight sense of smell. As far as taste goes, I would also have to say that they have some sense of taste, which is probably better than their sense of smell. For example, if you like hummingbirds and you want to attract them, you set out some sugar water in a hummingbird feeder outside. If you wanted to test them, you could put 2 feeders side-by-side, one with sugar water and one with plain water, and they will go to the sugar water every time. How do they do this? Do they smell the sugar? Do they taste it? Both? I don't think anyone really knows the answer to that question, but the same scenario can be applied to a turkey. Just like deer, they prefer white oak acorns over red oak, even in a red oak mast. Some people believe it's because of the decreased levels of tannic acid in white oak acorns, which is responsible for bitter taste. So if white oak acorns have less tannic acid, they are less bitter, and are instead sweeter in comparison to red oak acorns, which indicates that a turkey is able to taste a difference between the two acorns.

All of these questions you guys have posted on here are really good questions, and I'm not sure if even the most highly acclaimed wildlife biologist could give you a real clear-cut answer. There's always a study that support one idea, while another study may totally refute the same idea. People have different experiences that affect what they believe, that's why I love conversations like these so much!
Brian

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mark hay
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby mark hay » January 25th, 2011, 11:34 am

Well , I'll have to admit I 've spent ,more time thinking about this stuff for that past few days than I ever have before.
 
 That's some good stuff about the taste buds and the hummin'bird.
 
 At the risk of bein' throwed overboard without a life jacket ,,,and I can't swim a lick ,,,,,Them Wisconsin turkeys are tough for sure . I would like to see data from some Division that relocated some southern birds to a more northern location just to see how they fared with culture shock . I think they would prove to be quite adaptable . Maybe not 100% of the birds moved , but the majority .
 Evolution ? I could never swallow that lump of coal.

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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby charlie elk » January 25th, 2011, 4:21 pm

Turkeys were totally extirpated from WI.  After many failed restocking attempts with hatchery turkeys.  WI & MN made deals with states like MO & AR to trade ruffed grouse and geese for wild turkeys. 
The turkeys were released in the southern part of both states.  If I remember correctly the winter loss rate was about 60% the first couple of years.
The survivors and their off spring adapted (is that a better word than evolve?)[;)] became very northern survival savvy.
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

charlie elk
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby charlie elk » January 25th, 2011, 4:24 pm

These discussions help the between season time pass more pleasantly.
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby kenturkey89 » January 25th, 2011, 4:40 pm

I completely agree, Charlie. This forum is the only thing keeping me occupied until opening morning[:D]
Brian

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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby charlie elk » January 26th, 2011, 5:06 am

In my humble opinion- hunters who participate or read these types of in-depth discussions demonstrate there is more to the hunt than the kill.  They have a love and respect for the game they hunt; this is why it is the hunter who has a foot in both the civilized and wilderness worlds understands the intrinsic values of both.  Making the hunter best suited to soften the inevitable clash between civilization and wildness.
 
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

charlie elk
 
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Joined: August 7th, 2009, 4:50 pm
Location: Wisconsin

RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby charlie elk » January 26th, 2011, 5:26 am

I would like to see data from some Division that relocated some southern birds to a more northern location just to see how they fared with culture shock

down-loadable Information book from WDNR is here -
Wild Turkey Ecology and Management in Wisconsin
http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/wil ... eybook.htm

Do the game departments in other states have similar studies available?  Please post a link if anyone knows of them.
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

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