How Old Do Wild Turkeys Live To?
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The wild turkey has been a favorite food of Americans since as far back as the 1500s, and wild turkey is any serious hunter’s most sought-after game animals. Wild turkeys are a symbol of abundance, and they take pride of place on the dinner table during Thanksgiving.
Turkeys in the wild tend to live for around three years; however, some wild turkeys will live much longer than this and can stretch to ten years and beyond. There are ways you can determine a wild turkey’s age through measuring its spurs, and we will go through that in more detail below.
Factors Impacting Turkey Lifespan
There are a number of different factors which can have an impact on the lifespan of a wild turkey, and determining just how long a turkey can live depends on these. Some of the factors are –
This plays a pivotal role in a turkey’s lifespan as a turkey’s environment is where its food, shelter, and cover are. Changes in environmental factors such as food sources, species diversity, and species balance can drastically change the length of time the turkey in a given area will live.
Good weather all-year-round will have a positive impact on a wild turkey’s lifespan whereas more harsh conditions will make it harder for the wild turkey to find food and survive. Harsh weather conditions are one of the primary reasons a wild turkey may suffer a shorter lifespan.
Female wild turkeys have a shorter lifespan than their male counterparts in the natural environment. Female turkeys live for around three years on average whereas male turkeys live for around six years on average.
Obviously, wild turkeys which are residing in a hunting area will have a much shorter lifespan than those which live out of the way in more rural areas. The presence of predatory animals can also have an impact on lifespan; however, popular roosting areas tend to be chosen by wild turkeys because there is an absence of prey.
How to Determine Age
The most popular method of determining the age of a turkey is to look at its spurs. The Conservation Department index provides some guidance on this and states that: if a turkey’s spur is a ½ inch and has a rounded tip, it is one year old; if it is between ½ and 7/8 inches long and straight, it is two years old; if it is between 1 and 1 ½ inches long and slightly curved, it is three years old; and if it is more than 1 ½ inches long and more curved, it is at least four years old.
Wild Turkey Habitat
Wild turkey are often found on open forest floors; however, they are also commonly found in swampy areas and vast grasslands. The ideal habitat for a turkey is one which has an abundance of trees which can help them source food, provide a resting place and give cover during adverse weather conditions. Also, at night, they serve as a place to roost.
Grasslands are also a preferred habitat for wild turkey because they provide a source of food for young poults in the form of insects. Grasslands tend to be relatively moist too which is important for the reproduction and survival of wild turkeys.
Wild Turkey Behaviour
The wild turkey is a favorite amongst hunters because they spend the bulk of their days foraging on the forest floor, making them easy pickings for hunters with leafy suits. In fact, wild turkeys spend around 90% of their time foraging with their poults, mostly hunting down insects as a source of protein. When spooked, female wild turkeys tend to take flight whereas the males opt to run instead.
Poults will begin to roost in trees at around 28 days old which keeps them away from predators; however, they spend the majority of their first few weeks on the ground learning to forage for food.
During breeding season, male turkeys will breed with multiple different females and form all-male flocks outside of breeding season.
Wild turkeys are a favorite amongst many American hunters and have a rich and varied history throughout the history of the U.S. and beyond. They are a staple of Thanksgiving and are hunted year-round for the delicious and nutritious meat that they offer.
Today, turkey hunting is carried out just as much for sport as it is for the source of food. By being clued up on everything, there is to know about wild turkeys, including their lifespan, where they live, what they feed on and how they behave gives you the best possible chance of ruling the roost (no pun intended) and makes hunting more fun, interesting, informative and bountiful.