If your relationship with turkeys is limited to Thanksgiving dinners, you are missing a lot. Especially when you have a yard that could benefit from some natural pest control.
Wild turkeys are a delight to watch frolicking in your yard with their beautiful plumage and complex social interactions.
But they also help with pests since the omnivore wild turkeys have an amazing appetite for every bug that crawls, hops, or flies. Although they can become a nuisance themselves, wild turkeys are worth attracting to your yard.
Read more to find out how to lure them into your property.
Wild Turkey Habitat
Wild turkeys are resilient birds that have adapted to living in our suburban neighborhoods quite well. Thanks to this adaptability, wild turkeys can be found in diverse habitats. They can be found near rivers and streams where water and vegetation are quite abundant.
Oaks and grasslands also provide lush ground cover with broadleaf plants and shrubs that offer food and nesting places for the wild turkeys. They are also attracted to pastures, meadows, and pine savannas for the same reasons.
For the most part, it’s water and open green spaces that attract wild turkeys. But food above all is the biggest temptation for these social birds. If you want to get wild turkeys to visit your yard, try one or more of the following tips.
1. Provide Lots of Acorns
Wild turkeys love acorns. They help them survive the winters. This is why the birds prefer pine savannas. If you have a few pines in your yard, the wild turkeys will visit your yard regularly just to feed on the acorns.
If you don’t have mature pines, then leaving acorns for the birds to feed is a good way to attract them through the summer and fall.
2. Create a Clearing on Edge of Woodland
Wild turkeys prefer open green spaces with young trees, shrubs, and grass. If you have woodland with dense canopies, then cutting some of the shrubs and trees will create the ideal habitat for the grass-feeding wild turkeys to roam and nest.
3. Mow Grass/Fields Routinely To Encourage Fresh Growth
Mowing your yard invites the wild turkeys to visit the property. They feed on the fresh growth and pick any grubs and pests hiding in the low grass. The turkeys avoid tall or untamed grass in fields and meadows where predators like snakes, raccoons, and skunks hide.
So cut the grass regularly to keep those predators away and give the wild turkeys a safe habitat to feed.
4. Make a Ground-Feeding Station
One sure-fire way to bring wild turkeys to your yard regularly is to make a ground-feeding station. Choose a spot in your yard and fill it with a wide variety of foods including cracked corn, nuts, berries, mixed bird seed, crabapples, and grapes.
If you have a slug and snail infestation in your yard, the wild turkeys will take care of them.
5. Construct a Watering Hole
Besides food, water is the main attraction for most wildlife; wild turkeys included. Due to their size and numbers, wild turkeys need a lot of water. So install a ground bird bath in the yard and make sure it’s both low and broad to suit the large birds.
Keep the water clean and change it regularly to prevent pests and mold build-up.
6. Plant Berry Bushes
Berry bushes attract wild turkeys not just because of the berries, but also because they offer the young turkey chicks with cover. So plant a few berry bushes in your yard to give the wild turkeys more than one reason to visit your yard.
7. Plant Legumes and Clover for Foraging
Legumes and clover are another source of food for wild turkeys. Plant a patch of legumes and clover to feed the foraging birds.
8. Plant Native Trees and Shrubs
Shrubs and young trees are ideal nesting places for wild turkeys. They offer shelter for the adult birds against the heat of the sun and for the chicks against predators. Keep a few shrubs strategically in the yard to provide protection for the wild turkeys.
9. Thin Small, Weak Trees From Woodland Understory
Wild turkeys stay away from dense woodland since they are hunting places for predators and they don’t have enough grass and broadleaf plants to feed the turkeys. So thin out small and weak trees from the woodland to create a clearing where shrubs and lush grass grow.
10. Leave Large Mature Trees in Place for Roosting
The birds still need large trees to roost. Wild turkeys prefer to build their nests high above the ground where snakes, skunks, possums and other predators cannot reach the eggs and chicks. Even if there’s no food in the area, the large trees would attract the wild turkeys to build their nest.
11. Leave Large Shrubs and Fallen Trees in Place for Shelter
If you have a few fallen trees and shrubs in the area, don’t be in a hurry to remove them. In a large clearing, the wild turkeys still need a few hiding places. By leaving these fallen trees around, the turkeys will find shelter from predators.
12. Do Not Remove Fallen Leaves From Potential Nesting Sites
The wild turkeys build their nests from twigs, fallen leaves, and other plant debris they find. Leave the fallen leaves on the ground to encourage the turkeys to build their nests and roost in the area.
13. Keep Pets Confined
Dogs and cats scare wild turkeys. The turkeys will not visit your yard if you have pets that would chase them away. So keep the pets inside of the house to create a safe space for the turkeys to roam and forage.
14. Build a Brush Pile To Encourage Nesting
If you have nothing to entice the wild turkeys to visit your property, then building a brush pile should be a good option. The turkeys would welcome the pile and choose it as a good spot to build a nest.
15. Avoid Using Pesticides
Since wild turkeys feed on bugs and pests of different shapes and sizes, you won’t have to need pesticides on your property. Moreover, using pesticides could harm the big birds. Just let the turkeys do what they can do best and keep your yard pest-free.
Potential Problems When Attracting Wild Turkeys to Your Property
Although wild turkeys have many benefits in the yard and for the environment in general, they can become a nuisance or even a liability in some communities. Here are some potential problems associated with attracting wild turkeys to your property.
- Legal Problems: Some communities prohibit feeding wildlife including wild turkeys. Check the local laws and homeowner association regulations in your area before turning your property into a hub for wild turkeys.
- Destructive Behavior: Wild turkeys are not the most well-behaved birds you can invite to your home. The big birds are quite destructive and will damage plants, decorations, or anything of value you leave in their path.
- Aggressive Behavior: The strong birds are quite territorial. Turkeys will attack not just other birds, but even children and pets as well.
- Accidents: The birds roaming around in a neighborhood full of cars are prone to auto accidents and creating traffic jams.
If you love watching wild turkeys roaming around in your yard, then providing food, water, and shelter are the best ways to attract them. Once they like a place, the turkeys will build nests and make it their home.