Wild turkeys are not only fun to watch but they are about as American as the bald eagle. Attracting them to your yard is easy, with a few simple steps. But why would you want to? There are many reasons people want turkeys in their yard and if you’re one of them, here’s what you can do.
There are several easy tips for attracting turkeys to your property. Turkeys are in your yard searching for food, so having birdseed available will attract them. Even some berry bushes and fruit trees that drop fruit to the ground can be a perfect way to invite turkeys to your yard.
While wild turkeys can be a bit difficult to manage once they start coming around, if you’ve got the space to safely enjoy their company on your property, it can worth the effort. Luckily the tips we’re going to give you are easy, and you’ll be glad you got the chance to see some wildlife up close and personal!
Pros and Cons to Attracting Turkeys to Your Yard
Before we start jumping into the tips that are going to help you attract turkeys to your yard and property, let’s look at some small pros and cons of doing so. Wild turkeys are, after all, wild animals and you should be aware of what challenges can come from having them hanging around near you and your family.
Pro of Turkeys in Your Yard
- Turkeys are seen as an American symbol, much like the Bald Eagle. They are associated with the first settlers in America and were even suggested to be the national bird by Benjamin Franklin!
- Along with being rather majestic, when they are used to being around humans they tend to view humans as part of the pecking order. This means that turkeys can view people as more dominant and will even become submissive and docile towards them.
- Turkeys will also help attract other wildlife for you to enjoy because they are commonly found to be food for some wild birds and animals that might not sneak around for you to peek at if not for a turkey population.
- Turkeys can also help thin and control the population of wild plant growth because of the nuts and seeds they eat as the main part of their diet. This can help keep control of the plant life around your property that you might otherwise have to control yourself.
Cons of Turkeys in Your Yard
There can also be some serious cons to having turkeys roaming around your yard. Some people view turkeys as being pests because of this, not wanting to deal with large, domineering birds they can’t control.
- While there are quite a few instances where turkeys can view humans as higher on the pecking order, it’s not uncommon for them to view some as lesser. That can lead to some males being willing to bully humans they deem less dominant than them. If you aren’t into fighting off a turkey that’s got a bad attitude, this may not be the route for you.
- Turkeys will also leave feces all over the place. They are birds after all, so where they live, there will be poop. This is especially true if they are sticking around and nesting.
- Additionally, turkeys can do aesthetic damage to your yard by scratching and digging at the top layer of soil and grass. They’ll potentially damage roots on trees and that can be a pain to deal with depending on the age and size of your trees.
- They can be territorial when they are breeding. This can mean that having them hanging around your yard during certain times of the year can create issues between you and your new turkey neighbors if they don’t like you in their space.
Now that you’ve got an idea of what the pros and cons of having these wild turkeys around your property are going to look like, let’s take a look at the ten easy tips that will help you attract them.
Please keep in mind, for anyone hunting turkeys – baiting turkeys for hunting is illegal throughout the United States. The purpose of this piece is just for those wanting to invite more wildlife to their property for viewing purposes.
Easy Tips For Attracting Turkeys
Leave Out Dry Pet Food
While you do run the risk of attracting other animals such as raccoons and opossums, leaving out dry pet food is an easy way to attract turkeys onto your property. It can be dog or cat food, and preferably dry.
However, if you leave some out, you’ll find that the turkey is an opportunistic eater. They’ll enjoy the free meal and it’ll have them sticking around, hoping to get another one. Who doesn’t love free food?
The fact that turkeys are omnivores helps in this situation because they’ll be able to benefit from the crude protein and the different grains and vegetables that can typically be found in pet food.
Use Bird Seed
Providing ground food for turkeys to eat off of is going to be one of the best things to quickly attract them. With blends that have a variety of seeds, nuts, and mealworms, there are plenty of options to pick from.
You should go with something that does have a bit of variety to it though, make sure it’s got a bit of everything as they have a complex diet and if you want to keep them hanging around your property, you are going to have to work with those needs as best as possible. Turkeys are omnivores and will respond to bugs and seeds being mixed together.
Do keep in mind that any seed you put down could also attract other animals to your yard, so don’t be surprised if you see more than just turkeys hanging around! Again, who doesn’t love free food?
Let Fruit Fall From the Tree
Turkeys have a taste for fruit and berries, preferring the ones that drop to the ground making them easy to forage for.
The sorts of things you’ll want to be planted or growing around your property to make sure that the turkeys will have plenty to eat include oak trees for their acorns, as well as corn and nuts, so any trees that will drop fruit or berries work well.
Having apples, pears, peaches, anything in that realm that they can easily break up with their beaks is of interest to wild turkeys.
The great part about this is you’ll have fruits and nuts to potentially enjoy as well. They’ll come back year after year, which could help you establish an area for wild turkey to breed if you take proper care. If they have safe places to breed and forage, they’ll likely return for years.
Create a Good Habitat
For wild turkeys, the environment must be appropriate. They struggle when it comes to finding safe underbrush and areas that they can forage and breed. This is largely because they are easily captured by predators needing some dinner, so an easy tip for attracting turkeys into your yard is to build an environment they can enjoy.
This includes making sure there are plenty of trees and bushes growing. Wild clover and winter wheat also help because it gives them something to hide and nest in while also providing food during the harsher winter months. They tend to stick near where they nest, so drawing them in is going to mean making it safe for them.
Usually, wild turkeys prefer forested areas to nest and live while preferring clearings to forage and feast. If your property backs up to such an area, then you are already on the right path. However, you do have the option of planting trees and building this environment if you have the space to do so.
Plant The Right Types of Trees to Attract Turkeys
Pine and oak trees are going to be some of the best to have around your property or yard if you want to draw wild turkeys in. This is because they provide nuts and seeds from their branches that turkeys can eat. They also provide some brush to nest in when the pines and oak shed their needles and leaves.
These don’t have to be the only trees either! Hickory, beech, and dogwood are also great options to keep in your yard or on your property. They provide forest for hiding, nuts for foraging, and there is enough cast off that these trees can help build an environment that is potentially good for nesting.
While there are plenty of trees that can make for good ground coverage and shelter, you want to focus on trees that will be able to give a bit of everything within the environment.
Turkeys are particular because they struggle with nesting and reproduction, so you want to provide enough resources that they’ll want to stick around.
Set Out Some Water to Bring Turkeys In
This seems like a pretty obvious one, but one quick and easy way to make sure that wild turkeys are going to want to stick around is providing a source of water.
Simply stick a few bowls of water out when you put out seed and nuts for them to forage on. You could even go farther than that and build them a permanent source of water should you want to keep having them coming around.
This could be a trellis or a small pond, depending on the size of the property, and this constant source of water along with the same constant food will help keep turkeys around your property since they do prefer to stick to the same areas year after year!
Prep For All Seasons
Turkeys are picky, and because of that, they tend to want to settle in a singular area all year round. This means that if you want to attract turkeys to your yard or property, you’re going to have to make sure that you are giving them what they need all year.
While trees that bear nuts and fruits are a great start, those are going to come around during different seasons. However, you can do more than just plant trees and bushes to draw turkeys in. You can also find grasses, wildflowers, and other ground cover that will provide turkeys food, shelter, and nesting area.
A great sort of grass that can provide a good food source is clover and ryegrass. This grass also provides them with the ability to forage for grasshoppers and other insects during the spring and summer months.
Make the Most of Your Small Property
Some of these tips work really well for people that have a large property to work with, but what about people that have smaller yards?
Unfortunately, a smaller yard is going to limit what you can do, but an easy trick to help draw turkeys in is leaving your fallen leaves where they land. These birds use them as a means of nesting. If you’ve got the proper foliage then you are going to be able to grab the attention of a nearby roosting turkey.
However, the reality is that they are normally a single turkey to every thirty square miles. Especially in more densely populated areas where small houses and yards might be located.
If you are lucky and you live near some forested area, you might have an easier time, but without that bit of luck, you’re not going to get long-term visitors without the space to do so.
It’s all about using the space you have. Take these easy tips and scale them down to fit your yard. Leaving out food, water, and the leaves on the ground. You might get to see the whole group of them, but you’ll certainly attract a few that are wandering around.
Why Attract Wild Turkeys?
While turkeys might have a bad habit of getting humans into the pecking order, attracting them can be for the greater good.
There was a point in time where turkeys were endangered, at very high risk of dying out. This would have been rather sad for any of us when considering how majestic these creatures are.
By building space for turkeys to nest, eat, and safely hide away from predators, you are aiding in the conservation of these North American birds.
They can be skittish and picky, preferring their habitat to be very specific, making it difficult for them to thrive in more heavily human-populated areas. By providing them with space where they can feel secure in nesting and feeding, you’re helping them rebuild their natural populations.
That’s a Wrap!
Attracting turkeys to your yard and property can be a wonderful way to connect with wildlife without going too far. There are pros and cons to inviting these very social birds onto your property. However, at the end of the day, it’s a great way to aid in the conservation efforts of a native bird to North America.
While it might not seem so easy, if you’ve got the space to do so, it doesn’t take much work to build a space that is turkey-friendly! It’s about building on the things they already love!
Make sure they have food to forage, grass and leaves to nest in, plenty of water, and trees for hiding. While some of these things do require a lot more space, enough to give a forest-type setting, some of this can be done in any backyard.
This means that anyone can easily attract turkeys if they want to! Turkey lovers, rejoice!
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Hocking, P. M. (1999). Welfare of food restricted male and female turkeys. British Poultry Science, 40(1), 19-29.
Dickson, J. G. (Ed.). (1992). The wild turkey: biology and management. Stackpole Books.
Vander Haegen, W. M., Dodge, W. E., & Sayre, M. W. (1988). Factors affecting productivity in a northern wild turkey population. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 127-133.