Rio Grande wild turkey hen habitat and edge use, survival, and reproductive characteristics in the Texas rolling plains



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Texas Tech University


Reproductive characteristics and habitat use of adult Rio Grande wild turkey hens in west Texas were studied. Members of a^locly using a winter roost in Garza and Borden Counties, were trapped and instrumented with radio transmitters. The hens dispersed later in 1990 (28 March to 7 May) than in 1991 (11 March to 12 April). Dispersal distances averaged 7.2 km in 1990 and 12.6 km in 1991. (Mean nest initiation occurred at approximately the same time each yeay-17 May, 1990 and 8 May, 1991. Mean clutch sizes were 11.2 and 10.9 in 1990 and 1991, respectively. Nest success was 28.7% in 1990 and 34.8% in 1991. Predation (47.6%, 1990; 43.5%, 1991), hen abandonment (17.8%, 1990; none, 1991) and attended, but unhatched, clutches (5.9%, 1990; 21.7%, 1991) were responsible for unsuccessful nests. The birds were tested for Mycoplasma spp. but they were found not to be infected with Mgallisepticum. a known contributor to wild turkey infertility. March-August survival rates of adult hens were 52.6% in 1990 and 54.3% in 1991.

Average home range size of adult Rio Grande wild turkey hens was 2920 ha in 1990 and 3208 ha in 1991. Hens selected the(mesquite-hackberry brush and the mesquite brush vegetation)type for general locations and for poultrearing. They selected the mixed brush type for nesting and poult-rearing. All bird locations exhibited 50% visual obstruction (1.0 m observation height) at 23 m or less. Post-dispersal locations and roost sites showed hen selection for edges between vegetation types, (hoost sites occurred on the edge between cultivated fields and the mesquite brush habitat and between the mesquite shrub-grassland and mesquite brush habitats, combinations of open and more dense habitats.