When night falls, turkeys retreat to trees for safety and security. This behavior, which ornithologists refer to as roosting, is an important part of the forest ecosystem and helps these animals avoid predators. In addition to the obvious benefits of escaping predation, turkeys sleep in trees to help them stay warm and to avoid harsh weather conditions.
Turkeys have poor night vision, so sleeping in a tree gives them an advantage over their predators who may be active at night. They also prefer trees that have lots of horizontal branches to roost on, as well as good leaf coverage to keep them protected from predators and weather. Oak and sycamore trees are common roosting spots for wild turkeys.
During the day, turkeys spend much of their time on the ground foraging for food. They have good vision in the daytime and can see their surroundings up to 270 degrees, which is three times wider than humans’ field of view. However, when it comes to the nighttime, they need the protection offered by trees and often make a habit of roosting in different locations throughout the forest as temperatures change.
The only time turkeys don’t sleep in the trees is when they are raising young. When poults hatch, they are too small to reach the tree branches and depend on their mothers for warmth and comfort. This is why domesticated turkeys, which are raised in enclosed pens at turkey farms, never sleep in the trees like their natural counterparts.