An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Wild Turkey Hens On Eggs

wild turkey nest 238

This is what a typical Wild Turkey’s nest looks like – anywhere from 4 to 17 eggs in a shallow depression in the ground.  Sometimes, however, turkeys engage in a practice referred to as “egg dumping.” A hen turkey comes along and lays a few eggs in several other turkeys’ nests, in an effort to maximize the number of her offspring that will survive.  Up to 26 eggs have been found in a single Wild Turkey nest.  The hen turkey that built the nest doesn’t reject the additional eggs, but rather, welcomes them to her brood, incubates them and treats them as her own.  All of the precocial chicks are out of the nest within 24 hours of hatching and follow the hen, who feeds them for a few days until they learn to find food on their own.

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5 responses

  1. Marilyn

    So, supposedly hen turkeys are first selective about the “father” and then they might be selective of a “nursemaid.”

    May 11, 2016 at 7:52 am

  2. Alice Pratt

    Nothing like having a lot of siblings!

    May 11, 2016 at 8:11 am

  3. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature

    It’s a smart practice, given how many mama turkeys are killed on the nest. Smart birds. So many people think they are stupid. I think they are brilliant in so many ways! We love them. My husband was in the Forest Service from the 50s to to 1990 and helped reintroduce turkeys in many states.

    May 11, 2016 at 8:42 am

  4. mariagianferrari

    That’s a great adaptation strategy. I didn’t know it was called “egg dumping.”

    May 11, 2016 at 12:53 pm

  5. Sandy DeRosa

    My middle school students love learning about wild turkeys and their nests

    May 17, 2016 at 2:18 pm

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