Whether you’re learning their behavior to help put some food in your freezer or if you simply want to increase your wild turkey knowledge, knowing it’s day-to-day habits and how it behaves during breeding season will help you along in your quest.
Breeding usually begins in late February or early March in its southernmost habitats, but not until April in northern states. The cycle is complete with the hatching of poults by June or as late as mid-summer farther north. Birds that renest may bring off broods as late as August.
The reproductive cycle for the Florida wild turkey begins only slightly earlier than for the eastern wild turkey in other southern states. However, in southern Florida, turkeys gobble during warm spells in January, several weeks before actual mating. Egg laying is mainly in March and April with peak hatching occurring in early May.
Mating activities for the Rio Grande starts in March and nesting activity is high near the end of April. With the incubation period of 28 days, most poults are present in the last week of May or early June.
Some Merriam’s migrate from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to higher elevations in the summer for breeding and nesting and return to winter in the lower elevations. Movement distances vary but more than 40 miles movements are not unusual. Movements may differ annually and geographically, depending on snow conditions. Movements from wintering areas occur between mid-March and mid-April.
Gobbling activity for the Gould’s has been documented to begin in April and May in Mexico and from late April into June in New Mexico and in Mexico. The Gould’s turkey has been studied the least and, as a result, has the smallest amount of information available about it.