Wild turkeys are amazing, they have proven to be tough survivors under harsh conditions. Sometimes they are referred to as goats with feathers because of their ability find and eat such a variety of food.
Earlier this winter I found a flock of turkeys scratching in deep snow powder but they appeared not to be scratching down through the snow as they would if they were exposing nuts or seeds. This got my curiosity going so I moved in to investigate what they were after.
Insects take refuge in tree bark to wait out the winter and apparently after some high winds they blown out into the snow were they wait helplessly on the wild turkeys buffet.
Daniel Ripley says
wow! learn something new every day. thanks, Daniel
charlie elk says
Nature has so much to teach us. That’s why after 50 years of hunting I am still learning things. Spend time out there being observant and you’ll make many pleasant discoveries.
I am involved in working with several groups of insects that live in groundwater fed streams and emerge only during the winter time, known as Ultra Cold Stenotherms. The groundwater prevents the streams from icing over and allows the insects to complete their lifecycles during the winter time. Many of these species have special physiologies that resist freezing or allow them to survive freezing. The most common species of this type in SE MN and SW WI include types of midges (Chironomidae. particularly Diamesa mendotae) and stoneflys. It’s pretty common to see swarms of midges on streamside snowbanks during January and February. I have yet to see turkeys actively feeding on them, although the birds do frequent these areas during the winter.
The entomologists I work with run a site through the U of Mn with more info if you’re interested.
charlie elk says
Thanks for the additional info. I’m far from an expert on insects and have wondered many times over the years why I was finding insects during cold weather months and not just along cold water streams. They can be found all year around seeps and springs mostly on south slopes also in between the rough bark of trees.
I have noticed as the sun warms these areas the insects will swarm around as if contained in a bubble probably due to the surrounding temperature differences. On occasion I have seen turkey flocks bugging on these “snow” insects or midges.
After a long winter turkeys crave high protein so I focus my early spring hunting in these areas.