Sunday, April 24, 2011

Turkey Nests

Photo: Science Blogs


This post concludes my series on Eastern Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris): Turkey nests have been found in a variety of habitats. Sites are selected for their undergrowth characteristics. Nests are often found at the base of trees or against fallen logs. Hens will often select a nest site near a trail or open area. This allows for access to the nest and the trail or open area may be used for a feeding area during incubation. The nests are a shallow depression formed mostly by scratching, squatting, and laying eggs.
Most hens lay one egg a day, and have a clutch of 10 to 12 eggs. Laying hens cover the eggs with leaves or other material, while incubating hens leave the eggs exposed.

Hens that are incubating may occasionally roost in trees for the night, even after incubating continuously for several days. Most incubating hens leave the nest every day to feed, but occasionally they may skip a day. When a hen leaves the nest, she leaves the nest uncovered and goes directly to water, drink, defecate, and then feed. Time off the nest varies from day to day and weather can be a factor. On hot days hens seem to feed longer and in a more leisurely manner than on cold days.

Turkeys have an incubation period of about 26 days. Hatching begins with pipping. Pipping is when the poult uses its egg tooth (hard, sharp spike on the upper beak) to break the shell. The pipping poults rotate in the egg to make a complete break around the large end of the egg. Hatching takes about 24 hours. Once the poult frees itself from the egg it is ready to follow the hen within 12-24 hours.

Source: Department of Wildlife Management

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