Do wild turkeys migrate?
Winter 2014 has been severe in most of Wisconsin. Also the winter of 2013 was challenging for wildlife survival.
While snowshoeing across a hilltop field a flock of 30 – 40 turkeys flew in loose formation over head looking like they were on their way somewhere not near here. They were a couple hundred yards in the air and until that moment I had never seen such a flock flying so high. My first thought was they were migrating.
Posted here on March 7, 2014 Turkey Turkeys Everywhere .
Suddenly after being absent all winter except for a few dead ones here and there I feared the worst. Then suddenly where there were no turkeys on the 6th come the 7th there were turkeys all over the area. The appearance of turkeys struck me as similar with waterfowl, not there one day and then there the next.
On March 8 and 9 more turkeys showed up. While out in unit 4 I saw turkeys circling overhead looking for a place to land. Their heads turning side to side and the turkeys on the ground starting purring & clucking at the flyers which seemed to encourage those in flight turkeys to come in and land. Much in the manner waterfowl arrive in an area.
For the next couple of weeks these wild turkeys ate heartily of box elder seeds, fallen apples, wild grapes and other assorted berries. The berries of course were dried looking very much like small raisins. There was much gobbling and yelping from one end of the valley to the other.
Then one morning it was silent. As I explored the valley it was apparent to the most casual of observers all of the box elder seeds and grapes were stripped away, gone, all consumed. Clearly the turkeys numbering in the hundreds, it was not possible to count them all, ate all the “easy” food and moved on.
Were these turkeys from the northern part of the state that had come south and now on their way back? Or just wide ranging winter flocks? I have observed turkeys in this particular area for 14 years and have never seen turkey movement and behavior like this before.
Migration may not be the right term but clearly this winter of 2014 caused some very different wild turkey movements. Friends in southern Wisconsin unit 1 have told me about seeing more turkeys than ever before during the winter. Now as March thankfully comes to end they are reporting significantly fewer turkey sightings. Other buddies in the north are reporting turkey sightings after a long winter of no or few turkey sightings.