January 27, 2013

Help sought for turkey project


There should be forest openings throughout the property. These include old, abandoned fields and agricultural areas, as well as those that have resulted from timber cuts, beaver activity, logging roads, power lines and other rights of way. One to three acre forest openings can be created where none exist. If desired, clearings can be planted with a mixture of grasses, forbs and legumes. Shrub and brush growth provide excellent cover for nesting hens and young poults, in addition to producing food, and can be encouraged by removing trees along clearings and at woodlot edges.

Field crops are an extremely important food source for turkeys, as well. I’m not saying landowners and farmers should plant a crop for the birds, but I am suggesting leaving a bit of corn etc. around the edges of harvested fields in isolated areas to provide a source of high-energy food in winter, when the animals’ needs are greatest.

Since hens like to nest in hayfields, managing old hayfields to encourage grassy growth, which will reduce predator invasion of nests, is recommended. This will also increase insect populations. Insects are a fundamental part of turkeys’ diets.

If you’d like more information about wild turkeys and habitat, feel free to contact me by email ( or by calling Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County at 483-7403.

Richard L. Gast, Extension program educator II, Horticulture, Natural Resources, Energy; agriculture programs assistant, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, 355 West Main St., Suite 150, Malone, N.Y., 12953. Call 483-7403, FAX 483-6214 or email

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