Index of Species Information

WILDLIFE SPECIES:  Meleagris gallopavo


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Meleagris gallopavo
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Snyder, S. A. 1992. Meleagris gallopavo. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : MEGA COMMON NAMES : wild turkey turkey TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for wild turkey is Meleagris gallopavo Linnaeus [1]. The six subspecies are distinguished by coloration, size, and distribution [1,18]: Meleagris gallopavo ssp. silvestris Vieillot (eastern wild turkey) M. gallopavo ssp. osceola Scott (Florida wild turkey) M. gallopavo ssp. mexicana (Gould's wild turkey) M. gallopavo ssp. merriami Nelson (Merriam's wild turkey) M. gallopavo ssp. intermedia Sennett (Rio Grande turkey) M. gallopavo ssp. gallopavo (Mexican wild turkey) ORDER : Galliformes CLASS : Bird FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Meleagris gallopavo
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : The wild turkey has been successfully introduced in most states outside of its native range and has also been introduced in southern Saskatchewan, southwestern Manitoba, and southern Ontario [1,8]. It is resident locally from central Arizona and central Colorado to northern Iowa, central Michigan, southern New Hampshire, and southwestern Maine south to southern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and Florida; and since being introduced into the western states, ranges throughout the continental United States and Hawaii [8,18]. The original ranges of subspecies of wild turkey in North America are listed below [18]: M. g. ssp. silvestris - most of the eastern and midwestern United States, from southern Ontario south through northern Florida and from the Atlantic Coast to Kansas and Nebraska M. g. ssp. osceola - Florida Peninsula M. g. ssp. mexicana - north-central Mexico M. g. ssp. merriami - Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado M. g. ssp. intermedia - Texas, northern Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas M. g. ssp. gallopavo - east-central Mexico ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak-pine FRES15 Oak-hickory FRES16 Oak-gum-cypress FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood FRES18 Maple-beech-birch FRES19 Aspen-birch FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES26 Lodgepole pine dFRES28 Western hardwoods FRES31 Shinnery FRES32 Texas savanna FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon-juniper FRES36 Mountain grasslands FRES37 Mountain meadows FRES38 Plains grasslands FRES39 Prairie FRES40 Desert grasslands FRES41 Wet grasslands STATES :


BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 3 Southern Pacific Border 4 Sierra Mountains 5 Columbia Plateau 6 Upper Basin and Range 7 Lower Basin and Range 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 10 Wyoming Basin 11 Southern Rocky Mountains 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 14 Great Plains 15 Black Hills Uplift 16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K005 Mixed conifer forest K010 Ponderosa shrub forest K011 Western ponderosa forest K012 Douglas-fir forest K016 Eastern ponderosa forest K017 Black Hills pine forest K018 Pine - Douglas-fir forest K019 Arizona pine forest K022 Great Basin pine forest K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland K024 Juniper steppe woodland K026 Oregon oakwoods K029 California mixed evergreen forest K030 California oakwoods K031 Oak - juniper woodlands K032 Transition between K031 and K037 K037 Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub K051 Wheatgrass - bluegrass K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna K061 Mesquite - acacia savanna K062 Mesquite - live oak savanna K066 Wheatgrass - needlegrass K067 Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass K079 Palmetto prairie K080 Marl - Everglades K081 Oak savanna K083 Cedar glades K084 Cross Timbers K086 Juniper - oak savanna K087 Mesquite - oak savanna K090 Live oak - sea oats K091 Cypress savanna K092 Everglades K098 Northern floodplain forest K099 Maple - basswood forest K100 Oak - hickory forest K101 Elm - ash forest K102 Beech - maple forest K103 Mixed mesophytic forest K104 Appalachian oak forest K106 Northern hardwoods K109 Transition between K104 and K106 K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest K115 Sand pine scrub SAF COVER TYPES : 24 Hemlock - yellow birch 25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch 28 Black cherry - maple 39 Black ash - American elm - red maple 40 Post oak - blackjack oak 42 Bur oak 43 Bear oak 44 Chestnut oak 52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak 53 White oak 55 Northern red oak 60 Beech - sugar maple 63 Cottonwood 70 Longleaf pine 71 Longleaf pine - scrub oak 76 Shortleaf pine - oak 78 Virginia pine - oak 81 Loblolly pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood 84 Slash pine 85 Slash pine - hardwood 89 Live oak 98 Pond pine 102 Baldcypress - tupelo 103 Water tupelo - swamp tupelo 105 Tropical hardwoods 109 Hawthorn 210 Interior Douglas-fir 217 Aspen 220 Rocky Mountain juniper SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY PLANT COMMUNITIES : Wild turkeys predominantly inhabit oak (Quercus spp.) and pine (Pinus spp.)-oak forests across North America [18,21]. They also frequent bottomland hardwood sites such as those dominated by cottonwood and aspen (Populus spp.). In the West wild turkeys use ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)-Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)-oak forests and mature mixed conifer forests [6]. In the Southwest they use pinyon (Pinus spp.)-juniper (Juniperus spp.) types mixed with oak [23]. In the Southeast wild turkeys inhabit loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), slash pine (P. elliottii), and pond pine (P. serotina) forests mixed with hardwoods. They also use baldcypress (Taxodium distichum)-water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica) types [24]. REFERENCES : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Meleagris gallopavo
TIMING OF MAJOR LIFE HISTORY EVENTS : Mating Season - February through April Incubation - 28 days; 10 to 13 eggs; preccocial young Age of Maturity - 1 year, but may not mate until 2 to 3 years of age; polygamous Longevity - can live to 10 or 12 years, but 5 years is considered "old"; annual mortality of 50% in a population is common [13,18,21,26] PREFERRED HABITAT : The wild turkey occurs in a variety of habitats from bottomland hardwood forests to upland woods and pine forests. These forests must be interspersed with pastures, grasslands, or agricultural land and other openings that can provide feeding, dusting, and brooding habitat [22]. In Oregon, wild turkeys prefer to roost in large ponderosa pines on easterly slopes. They also may roost in logging slash on north slopes between 2,000 and 3,000 feet (610-914 m). In this same part of Oregon, wild turkeys prefer ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir-oak stands in spring and summer, mixed conifer stands in spring and winter, and oak stands in winter [6]. Eastern Texas brooding hens selected low stocked stands with abundant herbaceous cover [5]. In the Black Hills of South Dakota wild turkeys nest in slash and on rock outcrops [20]. In Arizona they will roost in valleys and in ponderosa pines on northerly slopes [23]. In Massachusetts, wild turkeys select agricultural land during winter, where they have a better chance of surviving severe winters than if they remained in the forests [27]. In the fields, wild turkeys can feed on manure. COVER REQUIREMENTS : Wild turkeys need mature, open forests (for traveling and seeing predators) interspersed with grassy openings. The amount of openings required by wild turkeys varies from 10 to 25 percent of the total range. Clearings should be spaced so that hens with broods do not have to travel more than 1 to 2 miles (1.6-3.2 km) [22]. Areas considered unsuitable include large tracts of even-aged pine on short rotations, intensely farmed fields, and areas with a lot of human activity. Healy (in Shroeder [22]) estimated that the best cover for poults in the Southeast is a grass and forb mixture 15.7 to 27.6 inches (40-70 cm) tall and with a biomass of 600 to 3,000 kilograms per hectare dry weight. This should be mixed with trees and a 60 to 100 percent cover in the understory. For more detailed habitat suitability index models, see Schroeder [22]. FOOD HABITS : Wild turkeys eat fruits, seeds, tubers, bulbs, and greens of locally common plants. They also eat animals such as snails, spiders, grasshoppers, millipedes, and salamanders [22]. Grasses are usually important spring foods, while mast and fruits are important during the fall and winter. Poults rely on insects for protein. Some plant food species of the wild turkey include flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), wild cherry (Prunus serotina), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), hickory (Carya spp.), hawthorn (Crateagus spp.), oak, cottonwood and aspen (Populus spp.), pinyon, juniper, prickly pear (Opuntia spp.), sumac (Rhus spp.), wheat (Triticum aestivum), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), rye (Secale cereale), soybean (Glycine max), paspalum (Paspalum spp.), and panic grass (Panicum spp.) [18,22,23]. Wild turkeys must be near drinking water on a daily basis [26]. PREDATORS : Predators of the turkey include humans, coyote (Canis latrans), skunks, weasels, mink (Mustelidae), raccoon (Procyon lotor), opossum (Didephis virginiana), feral dog (Canis commonis), bobcat (Felis rufus), foxes (Vulpes spp., Urocyon spp.), squirrels, chipmunks (Sciuridae), hawks (Buteo spp., Accipiter spp.), raven, crow, magpie (Corvidae), and various snake species [18,21,22]. MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : The wild turkey is a popular game species that has been introduced to almost every state outside the limits of its original range [21]. However, it is not very tolerant of human activity and has suffered from urbanization as well as intense farming and conversion of native forest land to pine plantations [11,22]. Wild turkeys are susceptible to domestic poultry diseases [26]. Pesticide spraying to reduce vegetation may temporarily result in decreased turkey use of an area [2]. Wild turkey populations declined following cutting, burning, and chaining of pinyon-juniper types in Arizona [23]. Partially cut units showed only a temporary reduction in turkey use. Where one-third of a large tract (800 ha) was treated, use decreased from 32 percent to 3 percent during summer. These authors recommended that cleared areas be less than 300 feet (90 m) wide and that cover in travel corridors between feeding and roosting areas be maintained. REFERENCES : NO-ENTRY


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Meleagris gallopavo
DIRECT FIRE EFFECTS ON ANIMALS : Spring fires may destroy nests. Fast-moving fires may kill newly hatched poults, but once wild turkeys can fly, fires are probably not much of a problem; and losses to the population are negligible [15]. HABITAT RELATED FIRE EFFECTS : Annual prescribed burns in longleaf-wiregrass (Aristida spp.)-bracken fern (Pteridium aquilegia) types of Georgia stimulated the growth of important wild turkey food plants like legumes and panic grass [4]. Following prescribed fires in the Georgia Piedmont, total seed production of desirable food plants increased during postburn year 1 from 6.4 kilograms per hectare to 26.4 kilograms per hectare [7]. Spring, late summer, and winter fires in Texas slash pine plantations seriously reduced mast production but increased fruiting of flowering dogwood [19]. Loblolly pine stands in South Carolina were burned to determine the effects of fire on wild turkeys [8]. One plot, burned every winter for 20 years showed an increase in desired food plants like winged sumac (Rhus copallina), beggartick (Desmodium spp.), and partridge pea (Cassia nictitans). An adjacent plot burned every summer for 20 years and one unburned plot showed little to no value for wildlife. FIRE USE : Prescribed fire can be used to stimulate the growth of food plants and promote early spring green up of grasses [22]. Fire can also reduce litter, exposing seeds and insects; and reduce brush so that turkeys can be wary of predators [14,15,25]. Fire can be used to create edges to increase nesting habitat [25]. It can also reduce parasites such as ticks and lice [16]. Devet and Hopkins [8] recommended burning loblolly-longleaf pine stands every 3 years, and burning every 4 to 6 years in Piedmont regions. For burning recommendations of mast-producing oak species see the desired species in the FEIS database. REFERENCES : NO-ENTRY

References for species: Meleagris gallopavo

1. American Ornithologists' Union. 2004. The A.O.U. check-list of North American birds, 7th edition, [Online]. American Ornithologists' Union (Producer). Available: [2005, January 10]. [50863]
2. Beasom, Samuel L.; Scifres, Charles J. 1977. Population reactions of selected game species to aerial herbicide applications in south Texas. Journal of Range Management. 30(2): 138-142. [408]
3. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434]
4. Buckner, James L.; Landers, J. Larry. 1979. Fire and disking effects on herbaceous food plants and seed supplies. Journal of Wildlife Management. 43(3): 807-811. [11966]
5. Campo, Joseph J.; Swank, Wendell G.; Hopkins, Curtis R. 1989. Brood habitat use by eastern wild turkeys in eastern Texas. Journal of Wildlife Management. 53(1): 479-482. [17691]
6. Crawford, John A.; Lutz, R. Scott. 1984. Merriam's wild turkey. Final Report on Project No. PR-W-79-R-2. [Place of publication unknown]: [Publisher unknown]. 39 p. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [17156]
7. Cushwa, Charles T.; Martin, Robert E. 1969. The status of prescribed burning for wildlife management in the Southeast. Proceedings, 34th North American Wildlife and Natural Resource Conference. 34: 419-428. [15652]
8. DeGraaf, Richard M.; Scott, Virgil E.; Hamre, R. H.; [and others]. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. Agric. Handb. 688. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 625 p. [15856]
9. Devet, David D.; Hopkins, Melvin L. 1968. Response of wildlife habitat to the prescribed burning program on the National Forests in South Carolina. Proceedings, Annual Conference of Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners. 21: 129-133. [14633]
10. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905]
11. Felix, A. C., III; Sharik, T. L.; McGinnes, B. S. 1986. Effects of pine conversion on food plants of northern bobwhite quail, eastern wild turkey, and white-tailed deer in the Virginia piedmont. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. 100: 47-52. [17692]
12. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998]
13. Hoffman, Richard W. 1991. Spring movements, roosting activities, and home-range characteristics of male Merriam's wild turkey. The Southwestern Naturalist. 36(3): 332-337. [17088]
14. Hurst, George A. 1978. Effects of controlled burning on wild turkey poult food habits. Proceedings, Annual Conference of Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. 32: 30-37. [14648]
15. Hurst, George A. 1981. Effects of prescribed burning on the eastern wild turkey. In: Wood, Gene W., ed. Prescribed fire and wildlife in southern forests: Proceedings of a symposium; 1981 April 6-8; Myrtle Beach, SC. Georgetown, SC: Clemson University, Belle W. Baruch Forest Science Institute: 81-88. [14813]
16. Jacobson, H. A.; Hurst, G. A. 1979. Prevalence of parasitism by Amblyomma americanum on wild turkey poults as influenced by prescribed burning. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 15: 43-47. [16067]
17. Kessell, Stephen R. 1981. A review and evaluation of succession modeling approaches. Final report to: Cooperative Agreement Supplement No. 11 between Gradient Modeling, Inc. and Intermountain Station. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station; 1981. 42 p. [1334]
18. Latham, Roger M. 1976. Complete book of the wild turkey. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books. 118 p. [17688]
19. Lay, Daniel W. 1956. Effects of prescribed burning on forage and mast production in southern pine forests. Journal of Forestry. 54: 582-584. [13828]
20. Rumble, Mark A.; Anderson, Stanley H. 1987. Turkey habitat use and nesting characteristics in ponderosa pine. In: Fisser, Herbert G., ed. Wyoming shrublands: Proceedings, 16th Wyoming shrub ecology workshop; 1987 May 26-27; Sundance, WY. Laramie, WY: University of Wyoming, Department of Range Management, Wyoming Shrub Ecology Workshop: 36-39. [13917]
21. Schorger, A. W. 1966. The wild turkey; its history and domestication. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. 625 p. [17689]
22. Schroeder, Richard L. 1985. Habitat suitability index models: eastern wild turkey. Biol. Rep. 82(10.106). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Fish and Wildlife Service. 33 p. [17686]
23. Scott, Virgil E.; Boeker, Erwin L. 1977. Responses of Merriam's turkey to pinyon-juniper control. Journal of Range Management. 30(3): 220-223. [16742]
24. Still, Hugh R.; Baumann, David P. 1989. Wild turkey activities in relation to timber types on the Francis Marion National Forest. In: Waldrop, Thomas A., ed. Proceedings of pine-hardwood mixtures: a symposium on management and ecology of the type; 1989 April 18-19; Atlanta, GA. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-58. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 137-141. [10270]
25. Stoddard, Herbert L. 1961. Wild turkey management. In: The Cooperative Quail Study Association: May 1, 1931-May 1, 1943. Misc. Publ. No. 1. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 426-433. [Reprinted from: Transactions, 21st American game conference; 1935 January 21-23; New York, NY. Washington, DC: American Game Association.]. [15077]
26. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1981. Habitat management for turkeys. Salina, KS: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 4 p. [17687]
27. Vander Haegen, W. Matthew; Sayre, Mark W.; Dodge, Wendell E. 1989. Winter use of agricultural habitats by wild turkeys in Massachusetts. Journal of Wildlife Management. 53(1): 30-33. [17690]