Turkey Habitat – Merriams

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merriam.jpgMerriam’s turkeys inhabit a variety of western areas, from sparsely timbered prairies and grasslands to scrub-oak and pine foothills and mountains. Many Merriam’s flocks are loosely migratory, living up near snow-capped peaks in spring and summer and moving miles to lower elevations in fall and winter. In the Southwest, most Merriam’s turkeys roost in ponderosa pines on the sides of steep, rocky canyons. North- and east-facing slopes near creeks seem to be preferred. Like their Eastern cousins, Merriam’s birds often roost on points and knolls below ridgelines.

In Montana, South Dakota and other upper western states, Merriam’s turkeys roost in pine trees scattered across the grasslands and plains. On the easternmost edge of their range, for example in eastern Nebraska, hens and gobblers roost in hardwood trees like their Eastern cousins.

Hens feed and nest in canyon bottoms and grasslands near scrub-oak thickets. Once or twice a day in arid regions, hens head for water (a creek, stock tank, etc.) with poults and toms in tow.

In the spring, gobblers strut for hens in mountain meadows or grasslands near ponderosa roosts. On the eastern fringes of their habitat, toms display in oak flats, fields and logging roads like their Eastern brothers do.


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