Turkeys are opportunistic foragers with a diverse appetite. They prefer acorns when they are available but will also eat the seeds, buds, leaves, and tubers of many other plants. Their principal natural plant foods fit into the following general categories:
Fruits (dogwood, grapes, cherry, and hackberry)
Seeds (weeds, grasses, and some sedges)
Greens (grasses, grass-like plants, and selected annual and perennial broad-leaved plants)
Although wild turkeys acquire some water through the foods they eat, the availability of surface water will greatly improve habitat for the species. One pond, stream, or other water source per quarter section of land is usually adequate. Check out Better Turkey Habitat for specifics on constructing a suitable water source for turkey on your land.
Turkeys will make use of cultivated plots, especially during periods of persistent snow cover or shortened food supplies. A few rows of corn or soybeans left standing next to timber will ensure a convenient food source for deer and turkey alike.
Insects and other invertebrates are necessary to meet the poult’s acute nutritional demands. In fact, close to 90 percent of a poult’s waking life is spent feeding within the first month.
Fields and forest openings tend to have a higher concentration of insects than wooded areas, making them superior brood-rearing habitats. Take this into consideration when planning for developments. In plots with extensive forest coverage, at least 10 percent of the area should be in scattered openings.