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Principal Foods for Wild Turkeys

How's the habitat?

The kind of food, cover and water present in an area determines the suitability of that habitat for turkeys. Different foods are preferred during the four seasons. Turkeys may use different areas in the winter than they do during the spring and summer.

Because food plants are distributed variably throughout turkey range, principal foods are given here as generalities.

Principal Foods During the Four Seasons
Winter Spring Summer Fall
Acorns Acorns Grass, leaves Sedges
Grass, sedge Grass, sedge Blackberries Acorns
Corn Corn Acorns Insects
Wild grapes Beechnuts Wild cherries Beechnuts
Dogwoods Burdock Huckleberries Wild grapes
Sumacs Ferns Bristle grasses Wheat
Beechnuts Non-woody legumes Blueberries Corn
Honeysuckle Wild grapes Wild grapes Insects
Wild cherries Insects Black gum Hawthorn
Insects   Buckwheat Buttercup
Hawthorns   Sedges Wild rye
Persimmons     Hornbeam
      Violets

By learning to recognize preferred foods, the turkey hunter can better identify where turkeys might be found. The amount of birds in a spring flock is a reflection of quality of habitat and the weather during the previous spring. Heavy spring rains and extended cold periods cause high polt mortality resulting In fewer jakes the following spring.

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2005
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: January 5, 2005