Wild turkeys are often enigmatic. Sometimes in groups of twelve, they emerge out of nowhere in a clearing and vanish just as quickly. Due to their excellent concealment, turkeys can be quite difficult to locate once they vanish into the woods. To help them blend in with the foliage while perched in their nest, the hens’ colors are not as vivid as the toms’. More often than not, you’ll observe the toms meandering around, gobbling and appearing a little bored once their flock of women heads back to their isolated nests for the day. Even in the winter, when it should be easier to spot them, wild turkeys remain somewhat of a mystery. When there is so little to be available in the winter, especially if they are in an area covered in snow, what do wild turkeys ever eat?
Introducing the Wild Turkey
Large-bodied birds, wild turkeys are distributed across most of North America. The turkeys that are native to Mexico are linked to those that are found in the United States. The eastern wild turkey, Osceola wild turkey, Merriam’s wild turkey, Gould’s wild turkey, Rio Grande wild turkey, and ocellated wild turkey are among the various species of wild turkey found in the United States.
Turkeys usually weigh between five and twenty-four pounds and have a lifespan of three to five years. Their heads are tiny, their legs are long and narrow, and their bodies are enormous. As was already established, the plumage of the males is more vividly colored than that of the females. Their hue is dark brownish-black, with an iridescent rainbow sheen over the feathers on their backs. The front feathers have white stripes and are brownish-black in color. The long, light to dark brown tail feathers have a pale beige tip. Depending on how they are feeling, the males’ heads can be blue, red, pink, or white. More akin to a mood head than a mood ring!
The females are somewhat smaller, with brown eyes rimmed in black lashes and feathers that are rather muted in color. In many locations, they have been hunted almost to extinction, but thanks to turkeys imported from other parts of the United States, their numbers have increased.
Foods Wild Turkeys Eat During Winter
Berries are a major component of the diet of wild turkeys during the chilly winter months. Berries grow on certain shrubs and trees, such as holly, even in very cold weather. The turkeys will either soar to a low branch or use their powerful legs to propel themselves there, where they may gather the delicious berries and safely avoid harm. Turkeys are, after all, quite low on the food chain, and, like many other creatures, predators suffer during the winter.
2. Tree & Flower Buds
While we’re talking about turkeys in trees, the birds also like to eat any buds from flowers and the new growth on trees. When it comes to their diet, turkeys aren’t particularly choosy; they’ll eat almost anything that fits in their jaws. Trees provide moisture and fiber in their new growth, which might be scarce in the winter. They remain to consume whatever that makes sense after they have climbed a tree and are eating berries. It has been observed that these charming birds toss blossoms, berries, and insects to their fellow flock members.
They might also come find an acorn, beech nut, or hickory nut when they are in the trees. All of them are significant components of the winter diet of the turkey. They are high in calories and fat, which helps the turkeys stay a healthy weight during the winter. Eating nuts also has the added benefit of occasionally containing insects, which turkeys also consume. Even when there is some snow on the ground, nuts can still be found there that the turkeys trample up.
4. Hemlock and Pine Needles
Pine and hemlock needles contain vitamins A and C, which are highly helpful during the winter months, even though they may not seem very tasty to us. When there’s not much else to eat, the birds feed on low-lying branches; or perhaps they just enjoy the needles.
5. Mosses and Lichen
The moss and lichen that grow on or around trees, along with everything else about them, seem to be rather tasty to a hungry turkey. Both of them are high in fiber, high in protein, and high in carbohydrates, which provides the turkeys the energy to jump into those trees and roam around somewhat aimlessly.
Turkeys will eat grass when they are on the ground and will dig it up when the snow covers it. It provides fiber, protein, and hydration. Grass grows readily everywhere, so turkeys don’t need to expend much energy finding it.
7. Leftover Grain
Grain fields are fascinating to turkeys to explore once the plow has passed through. Grains such as corn, soybeans, wheat, and others often fall behind. They provide some sustenance for the avian masses, but they will be sharing with a multitude of other creatures.
Although it’s not the ideal season to search the ground for insects, turkeys nevertheless manage to discover them during the winter. The turkey’s strong legs allow it to dig fairly deeply into the ground and even tip over rocks that may be home to a large number of insects. Insects and arachnids that hibernate throughout the winter months may thaw out and become active on warmer winter days, making them easy prey.
Foods That Wild Turkeys Consume in Different Seasons
Food is considerably easier to find and has a wider selection throughout the other seasons than it does during the winter. There are a lot more insects for them to pick from; grains are growing, ready to be harvested, or have recently been picked, so the turkeys have fair and simple prey. Additionally, berries are far more likely to be plentiful and provide a greater variety. During the warmer months, salamanders, frogs, mice, and certain lizards are also consumed by turkeys. Although they have a varied diet, turkeys are not an easy species to live with!