When do Turkey’s nest in Wisconsin? One of the questions many hunters are asking, and you can understand why after the below average temperatures we’ve been having this spring many days of snowfall and freezing rain.
How will the weather affect the wild turkey’s nesting schedule?
Many studies have found wild turkey breeding depends on photoperiodism, the length of day. This year the wild turkeys have been mating as they usually do. However, most
hunters think breeding has not been taking place because the turkeys are still flocked up, and they have been quieter this spring. A lot less gobbling than usual. Perhaps the lack of turkeys calling is due to the turkeys feeding in close proximity to each other. There are fewer feeding areas this spring because of the snow and ice cover, meaning there is no need to call to each other when they can see each other; also makes the turkeys harder to call in using the traditional calling methods. (soft hen yelps)
Just because a hen has mated does not mean she is on a schedule to lay her eggs by any given date. When a gobbler mates with a hen his sperm travels into the hen’s oviduct and remains in there in the infundibulum, sometimes referred to as “sperm nests” areas that collect and store semen for later fertilization of the turkey’s eggs. Apparently, this a built in survival strategy to assure the production of a series of fertile hatching eggs even after the male is not available or lost interest. No one knows for sure how long the sperm remains viable, but it’s commonly thought it remains fertile for a couple of months or more providing the hen with ultimate control of the egg laying timing.
Traditionally, a spring with the typical weather, peak egg laying occurs the last week of April. However, in cold and wet years egg laying is delayed. But what is the trigger for egg laying? Light – certainly plays a role but no hen is going to make a snow nest. Research on this is not available anywhere I searched, even Google Scholar did find any studies on this. Perhaps someone has the answer buried in a dusty file somewhere. So, for now, I will speculate.
My good friend treerooster brought up an idea that very well could be the answer; that is, ground temperature. Farmers and gardeners use soil temps to determine when to plant what seed. It makes a lot of sense that certain wild plants will emerge at the correct soil temperatures. Are some of these emerging plants the trigger? Consider, those plants are known to provide the necessary food for the newly hatched poults. Are some springtime plants the signal of the next insect hatch? Does the hen turkey sense the temperature through her feet or body?
I could find no research done on this potential correlation. So we need to do some observing and recording to uncover the connection.
For what it’s worth my prediction – turkey nesting is going to be taking place much later this year. Mid May through June.