Where do wild turkeys winter?
I live out in the Applegate Valley where "wild" turkeys abound in the spring through the fall. However, they all seem to disappear in the winter. Where do they go?
— Shirley W., e-mail submission
Obviously, Shirley, the turkeys you're talking about found a better deal in the winter and have gone elsewhere. But exactly where and why will elude us until we capture a few of the turkeys and put the squeeze on them until they talk.
So we posed this imponderable to Mark Vargas, the Rogue District wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in Central Point. And Vargas has some ideas.
Since turkeys don't fly south for the winter — or anywhere very far for that matter — Vargas' best guess is that they simply moved to find winter food elsewhere, either natural or artificial.
"Maybe one of your neighbors has a pile of cracked corn out for them," Vargas says.
Or a forage crop present on your land during spring and fall draws the turkeys then, but the crop disappears in fall and they move one ridge away, Vargas says.
Another option is based on the elevation of your property, Shirley. If you're near or above the snow line, the turkeys could go looking for warmer ground as soon as the first snowflakes hit the pines, Vargas says.
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