In the winter, wild turkeys sleep in trees for safety and security. They select a tree that has branches high enough to keep them safe from predators and strong winds. They also look for a roost that is sturdy and stable. Ideally, the roost will be over water. This gives them easy access to water late in the evening and first thing in the morning.
A turkey’s eyesight deteriorates at night, so they need to be off the ground to avoid predators. Their wings can’t support them in the air, so they roost on branches with some underlying structure.
They often roost in riparian zones, areas that butt up against bodies of water such as rivers and creeks. This provides them with easy access to freshwater for drinking in the evening and first thing in the morning. In addition, a roost over water also gives them added security from predators.
As the winter sets in, turkeys roost in softwood stands such as pine and hemlock, which provide more shelter than hard mast trees. They also roost in groves of conifer trees, such as spruce and fir. These types of trees are more stable in a storm and offer protection from cold and wind.
Wild turkeys are a beautiful sight in a forest, and we should all do our part to protect old growth forests. However, we should not feed them during the winter as this interferes with their natural behaviors and makes them reliant on humans.