Eastern Wild Turkey


Nature Close to Home and Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Dave Woehr shares monthly naturalist stories.

LEBANON, OH -- I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Wild Turkeys I’ve seen inside the City of Lebanon. And it has been several years since my last such sighting. But recently, my neighbor Howard Ellsworth was excited to find one scratching around in his front yard in our Lebanon subdivision. 

He quickly brought it to my attention, and with his guidance, I was able to get photographs of the turkey as it made its way far to the back of the property at the edge of the woods. 

It was a mature hen, and since this is nesting season for turkeys I’m hopeful that she may produce a successful brood. 

Turkeys nest on the ground concealing their eggs in leaf litter, underbrush, and fallen branches. Up to a dozen eggs are incubated for a month before they hatch. The Ohio Division of Wildlife has been concerned about the turkey population for several years now.

Since the mid-1950’s when turkeys were reintroduced to the state their population grew almost
exponentially. Then, around the year 2000 the size of the flock began to decline statewide. The cause of the decline is not clear. Possible factors include cold, wet nesting seasons, disease, and predation.

Ongoing studies continue to monitor turkey population trends and attempt to correlate them with associated factors. The state regulates turkey hunting seasons, bag limits, and habitat management to maintain a healthy, stable, or growing population of birds. 

The Wild Turkey is very popular among hunters since a plump Tom can weigh over 20 pounds and be the main course of a Thanksgiving dinner.

I reported today’s turkey sighting in my neighborhood using the website that the state uses to track the overall health and abundance of species of concern. You can check out the sight and submit your own reports at... https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/987f2ade0037405ea9ff1819aab040a8?portalUrl=https://gis.ohiodnr.gov/portal

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