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Hen Turkeys Protecting Poults

6-12-17 wild turkey hen 197

Wild Turkey chicks, or poults, can be seen these days scurrying at their mother’s feet, trying to keep up with her as they forage in fields for grasshoppers and other insects. How the hen turkey reacts to a human (or other) threat depends on the age of her poults. If they are very young (under a week old), she huddles stock still with her brood in a frozen position.   With wings and tail spread, she provides them with shelter. If they are detected, she gives a vocal command to her young to remain “frozen,” and feigns an attack on the intruder, simultaneously making a “putting” sound to quiet her chicks. By the time they are a week old, poults tend to evade possible predators by running away. At nine days old and later, most poults fly into low vegetation when threatened. By the time her brood is three weeks old, the hen commands them to fly into trees at the sign of danger.

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6 responses

  1. Jill Trudeau Marquard

    Hi, Mary. Saw mother hen moving slowly and tiny chicks just this morning in our backyard!

    Jill

    

    >

    June 12, 2017 at 8:43 am

  2. Kelly Maginnis

    These guys have been in my orchard for three days. They seem to be right in between the hiding in the grass and running away stage. Super cute. There are about six or seven chicks. Is that typical? They seem so vulnerable. Thank you for your timely post.

    On Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 8:30 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: ” Wild Turkey chicks, or poults, can be seen these > days scurrying at their mother’s feet, trying to keep up with her as they > forage in fields for grasshoppers and other insects. How the hen turkey > reacts to a human (or other) threat depends on the age of ” >

    June 12, 2017 at 8:50 am

    • Turkeys lay anywhere from 4 to 17 eggs, as a rule, Kelly. Later in the summer, sometimes broods join each other so you can see more than two dozen young ones together!

      June 12, 2017 at 11:07 am

  3. Elizabeth

    Question: The tick population, so numerous in May and early June, is finally receding (Hooray!). I know that the summer tick decline is partly due to the hotter, drier weather. But is it also because of turkey poults getting old enough to get out and prey on ticks? And other predator young?

    June 12, 2017 at 10:22 am

    • Possible, Elizabeth, for sure, but they naturally recede in the summer due to their life cycle. Full-grown adults are active in the spring and fall, which is when we see high numbers of ticks. Tiny nymphs and larvae are present in the summer but not as noticeable. It all has to do with their life cycle!

      June 12, 2017 at 11:27 am

  4. Flying at nine days – that’s amazing. This time of year is such a melee of growth and survival.

    June 12, 2017 at 2:53 pm

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