Wild turkeys are surely a sight to see. With their stocky, large bodies, their skinny necks, and feathers galore. Turkeys are beautiful creatures, there’s no doubt, but they’re not always so beautiful when they’re getting into your yard and gardens!
Turkeys love to eat the fruits and vegetables out of your garden, and their heavy-weight bodies can lead to the trampling and destruction of nearby plants. There are various ways to keep turkeys out of the yard, from physical deterrents to invisible scent-based barriers.
- Turkeys come into our yards because they are searching for food or have found a comfortable and safe place to nest.
- Turkeys cause damage by digging in the yard, leaving behind droppings, and possibly causing damage to cars and homes.
- Using scare tactics, scent deterrents, and keeping the yard clean are the best ways to keep turkeys out of the yard.
What Are Turkeys Doing in my Yard, anyway?
Turkeys love insects, and one of the main reasons why you will find them scavenging around in your yards and gardens is because they are looking for a bite to eat.
At face value, turkeys eating all the insects in your yard isn’t the worst thing – but – the problems start to occur because of a turkey’s instinct to find a place to nest.
Turkeys Nest in Your Yard
Turkeys nest in leaves on the grounds, at the base of trees, and are also very attracted to oak trees, as they provide shelter and an abundance of acorns.
Many of us have oak trees in our yards, which can be one of the first reasons why you have a turkey problem!
Oaktree branches are strong enough to allow for a turkey to perch high up above, giving them a chance to be on the “lookout” for predators and food sources nearby.
Turkeys are Eating In Your Yard
Another reason why you may have turkeys in your yard is that turkeys are ground feeders. When they find a good place with an ample supply of food on the ground, like under an oak tree, they will make it their home!
Iowa State University tells us that insects make up a large portion of the diet of young turkeys – up to 77%. If you have a healthy ecosystem in your yard, it means you have a lot of soil-dwelling insects, which turkeys will dig around for in the dirt.
Turkeys Are Causing Havoc in Your Yard
Once a turkey establishes its home near your home, they start causing havoc!
Turkeys will start digging holes in your yard and garden to take dust baths. They will stomp all over your plants and gardens just because they simply don’t know any better. They’ll also get easily distracted by any fruits or vegetables that are in their path – which will be an uh-oh for your garden!
Turkeys also come in flocks, so if you see one turkey, there’s a good chance that more will follow.
So, if any of these turkey instances sound like you – keep on reading to find out how to get them to stay away and keep the turkeys at bay!
Here’s Why You Need To Keep Turkeys Out Of The Yard
Turkeys seem like very aloof creatures. They’re birds but can’t really fly. They spend most of their time on the ground but can’t really run. All in all, they’re not very intimidating, are they?
The truth about turkeys is that they can do a lot of damage to your yard and be quite aggressive, especially during the mating season. You’re most likely to see big flocks of turkeys in the fall and winter when multiple flocks come together. Turkey flocks are smaller in the spring and summer when food sources become abundant.
So, what about turkeys necessitates keeping them out of your yard?
Turkeys Can Be Aggressive
Turkeys can be aggressive. They will charge at you, bite, and may even attack if they feel threatened. If you have a turkey problem, never touch the turkeys or run at them.
As with any wild animal, turkeys with peeps tend to be more defensive than adult turkeys. It’s best to avoid mama turkeys in the spring when chicks are born, as they can be quite aggressive.
Turkeys Cause Damage to Your Home
Other than wreaking havoc on your outdoor spaces, the longer turkeys are around, they can do some damage to your home just because of their general physique.
Remember, turkeys are large creatures, and they can perch on gutters and your roof and can cause destruction to them. Turkeys can also perch on your fences, and if you have a bunch of turkeys hanging around, the extra weight on these features will cause damage.
Turkeys often fly up and land on the roof of cars as well, which can leave dents, scratches, and other unwanted damage.
The longer the turkeys hang around, the more damage will occur, albeit unintentionally. Turkeys are just doing their normal turkey things. But if you see one turkey, there’s likely more in the area, which is why it’s crucial to act fast to keep turkeys out of your yard and garden.
10 Ways to Keep Turkeys Out of Your Yard and Garden
1. Motion Activated Sprinklers Work Well Against Turkeys
One of the easiest ways to keep turkeys out of your yard and garden is to add some motion-activated sprinklers into your gardens!
Creating a water hazard is a humane way to scare the turkeys away.
Sprinklers will not harm the turkeys but will definitely startle them! Turkeys require a drink of water daily, but they don’t particularly like being sprayed with it. Setting up motion-activated sprinklers in high-turkey-traffic areas will hopefully startle them enough so that they don’t come back.
The Orbit Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler is our top recommendation. The settings can be adjusted to fit your individual needs based on when the turkeys seem to come around the most.
2. Spray them With the Hose To Keep Them Away
Similar to the motion-activated sprinkler idea, if you see turkeys in your yards, quickly get your hose and give them a spray. Not only will the hose startle them, but your presence while spraying the water can scare them too.
Turkeys are creatures of habit, so they get used to an environment and can adapt fairly quickly to it. Using the hose will be random and sporadic and can make the turkeys feel unsafe.
Turkey tip: If a turkey feels unsafe, they are not going to stay around.
3. Keep Umbrellas Open at Night to ward off turkeys
To us, an umbrella protects us from the sun and rain. To a turkey, an umbrella is a large, ominous figure lurking in a landscape.
Being that turkeys are typically perched up high in a tree, looking down at these large circle-like blobs is going to confuse them and make them wary of the territory below. From the top of the trees, a turkey looking down at an umbrella may block its view of the ground.
The umbrellas can spread out and block any important ground coverage that a turkey needs to see to determine if there are any predators or food sources nearby. Turkeys have amazing eyesight, so an open umbrella will block this sense, making the turkeys feel unsafe.
Likewise, turkeys are birds that love to fly and run. If the turkeys are on the ground, their ability to take flight may be hindered if the umbrellas are open, and this will hopefully keep them from hanging around.
4. keep turkeys away by Letting your Dog Outside
A very simple way to keep turkeys at bay is to let your dog outside, preferably on a leash!
Turkeys fly at fast speeds and run extremely fast as well, so you don’t have to worry too much about your dog “catching” a turkey. But, to be safe, letting your dog out on a leash will surely scare a turkey away because they will see your dog as a predator.
Turkeys aren’t going to stay anywhere where they are not welcome, or worse, wanted for dinner by a predator! If there is a possibility of predators nearby, a turkey is going to flee. Letting your dog out the first instance you see a turkey will scare it enough to stay away and hopefully have it think twice about trespassing on you or your dog’s territory again.
5. Add Noise To Your Outdoor Space to repel turkeys
Adding noise to your outdoor spaces is also another way to keep turkeys out of your yards and gardens. Turkeys have a strong sense of hearing, which they use to listen for predators and hear the calls of the pals in their flock.
Adding noise into your outdoor space is going to make the environment seem unsafe. Why? It will make the turkeys prone to predators because they won’t be able to hear them!
Now, it doesn’t have to be silly noises – like screaming out your door every so often, or something irritating to humans like a horn honking throughout the day. It can be something as simple as having some music playing or adding a wind chime to your outdoor space.
Any noise, even if it’s pleasant to us, will be an annoyance to the turkeys – might as well make it pleasing to our ears! But hey, you may like shouting – to each our own!
6. Add Reflectors Around Your Garden and Yard
Another easy way to get rid of turkeys is to add reflectors or mirrors sporadically throughout your landscape! The reflections of light bouncing off will confuse and disorient the turkeys and make it harder for them to see the ground in front of them and below.
Using reflectors in the garden or hanging off of tree trunks will create a natural bright light that will irritate the turkey’s line of sight. Plus, other animals such as birds, squirrels, and other lingering pests, will also be annoyed by this “new” light feature and will leave the space.
Another way to use reflectors is to purchase windchime reflectors that hang in the trees. Homescape Creation’s Bird Repellent Reflective Scare Rods are a nice decoration for you to look at while deterring those trespassing turkeys!
Besides the reflection of light, if a turkey comes across a mirror in the garden, they’re going to see their reflection and think it’s another turkey that they don’t know! That alone is enough to keep turkeys away from your outdoor space.
7. Add Repellent Tape To your Trees and Fences
Repellent tape, similar to the idea of using reflectors, is another great way to deter turkeys.
When light shines on the tape, it projects red and other colors that reflect light whilst shining in a pattern. When a turkey sees patterns or red, they instinctively know to stay away as both usually mean poison or other hazardous conditions.
HICI Repellent Scare Tape is a good place to start, especially if you’re having some night-time turkey problems. It’s important to include some sort of light source that will ‘activate’ the tape, so to speak. Either add some extra solar lights into your garden or have an outdoor light shine on them.
Also, remember – turkeys sleep at night, so when there’s extra light around, they are going to feel unsafe. With the addition of light to the nightscape of your garden and yard and the addition of this repellent tape, you are likely to see fewer turkeys in your outdoor spaces.
8. Use Smells turkeys Hate To Keep them Away
Another discreet way to keep turkeys away is by adding scents they hate around your yard! Don’t worry, these scents are typically very pleasant to us but unwelcome to turkeys:
- Garlic: Try planting garlic around your garden to ward off turkey visits. Crushing a small part of the plant daily will help release the scent, keeping it strong.
- Cayenne pepper: This spicy ingredient contains capsaicin, which will irritate a turkey’s olfactory system and make them stay away.
- Peppermint: Create a repellent peppermint spray by combining 10-15 drops of essential oil with water in a spray bottle.
- Lavender: Plant lavender around your home and garden, or use an essential oil spray to keep turkeys away.
- Eucalyptus: Similar to peppermint, you can create a spray using the essential oil or soak cotton balls in the oil and place them strategically around the yard.
Scents deter turkeys because it overwhelms their sense of smell, making it difficult for them to locate food or detect predators. When turkeys can’t smell, they’re likely to gobble off to somewhere else!
9. Clean up Food Sources
One tried and true method of keeping pests like turkeys at bay is to clean up food sources. Listen, all pests come by when they sense food – it’s in their instinct! Keeping garbage cans tidy is the first step to cleaning up the surroundings. Likewise, picking up any food scraps that are lingering around is a good idea.
Turkeys may not sift through your garbage like raccoons or opossums, but they will be attracted to the insects that live on or near your garbage.
If you don’t typically leave food scraps or garbage bags unattended outside but still have a turkey problem, try masking the smells of the food by adding essential oil into the garbage can. Another option is using scented garbage bags like the Glad Scented Trash & Food Storage Bags.
Sometimes all it takes is masking the food scent, which will inherently make your environment less desirable for any pests, and maybe even more desirable to you!
10. Use Decoys To scare away turkeys
Another tried and true method to keep turkeys away is to install flying objects into the environment like decoys, kites, windsocks, or flags.
Turkeys are unlikely to fly and hang around a space where there are other objects or animals in their airways. And most likely, turkeys aren’t going to risk checking these things out to see if they are safe – unless you have some bold turkeys on your property – in that case, you’ve got another problem!
Using a decoy like Besmon Owl Statue Decoy can scare turkeys away as other birds and owls can be a predator to them. Make sure to move the decoy around to keep turkeys guessing. Otherwise, they will become accustomed to it and no longer be afraid.
Here are a few other effective decoys to use to keep turkeys away:
|Effectiveness at Keeping Turkeys Away
|Moderately effective. Turkeys may be wary of owl decoys, especially if they are moved periodically. However, their effectiveness may diminish over time as turkeys become accustomed to them.
|Somewhat effective. Kites that resemble predators in flight can deter turkeys, especially when flown in the vicinity of the turkeys’ roosting or feeding areas. However, their effectiveness may vary depending on the turkeys’ behavior.
|Moderately effective. Windsocks designed to mimic predator movement can deter turkeys, particularly when placed in open areas or fields. However, their effectiveness may decrease if turkeys become accustomed to them.
|Moderately effective. Realistic coyote decoys can deter turkeys, particularly if they are repositioned regularly to create the impression of movement. However, their effectiveness may diminish over time.
|Moderately effective. Hawk decoys can deter turkeys, especially if they are positioned in a visible location and moved periodically to simulate predator activity. However, their effectiveness may diminish as turkeys habituate to their presence.
Turkeys are fun to watch, but they can be a hazard in the yard. They dig up insects, destroying your precious garden and flower bed in the process. Not to mention these gobblers can be aggressive if provoked!
Luckily, there are a few ways to keep these tenacious birds out of your yard. Here’s a recap of 10 ways to keep turkeys away:
- Motion-activated sprinkler
- Spray them with a hose
- Keep umbrellas opened
- Let your dog outside
- Add noise to your yard
- Use reflectors
- Add repellent tape to the yard
- Use scents that turkeys hate
- Clean up the yard
- Use decoys to scare turkeys
Turkeys are a lot to handle, and we recommend that if you have a problem you can’t control or don’t feel comfortable controlling, contact professional help as soon as you can. Our nationwide pest control finder can help you connect with a local pest specialist.
Anderson, G. (2007). Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). Handbook of Biological Techniques, 17-1.
Groepper, S. R., Hygnstrom, S. E., Houck, B., & Vantassel, S. M. (2013). Real and perceived damage by wild turkeys: a literature review. Journal of Integrated Pest Management, 4(1), A1-A5.
Hughes, T. W., & Lee, K. (2015). The role of recreational hunting in the recovery and conservation of the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo spp.) in North America. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 72(5), 797-809.
Marchewka, J., Watanabe, T. T. N., Ferrante, V., & Estevez, I. (2013). Review of the social and environmental factors affecting the behavior and welfare of turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). Poultry Science, 92(6), 1467-1473.
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