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Title: Feeding ecology of Merriam's turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo merriami) in the Black Hills, South Dakota

Author: Rumble, Mark A.; Anderson, Stanley H.;

Date: 1996

Source: American Midland naturalist. 136(1): 157-171

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: W e studied the feeding ecology of Merriam’s turkey (Meleagris gallopavo merriami) in the Black Hills, South Dakota, between 1986 and 1989. Adult birds consumed 78 kinds of food, of which four food categories constituted >79% of winter diets and six food categories constituted >75% of summer diets. Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) seeds were the preferred winter food and birds selected habitats where pine seed abundance was highest. During drought, ponderosa pine produced fewer seeds and winter turkey diets were predominantly kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) fruits and herbaceous foliage and seeds. Merriam’s turkeys consumed more green foliage from late winter through spring. Summer diets were mostly grass seeds and foliage. Arthropods comprised >60% of the poult diets. Poults 13 wk old consumed more arthropods than poults >7 wk old. Grasshoppers (Orthoptera) and beetles (Coleoptera) were the primary arthropods eaten by poults. Brood hens selected macrohabitats where arthropod abundance was highest. Poults selected arthropods with large mass/individual and disregarded some arthropods that were abundant but with low mass/individual.

Keywords: Pinus ponderosa, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, feeding habits, broods, Black Hills, South Dakota

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Rumble, Mark A.; Anderson, Stanley H. 1996. Feeding ecology of Merriam''s turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo merriami) in the Black Hills, South Dakota. American Midland naturalist. 136(1): 157-171


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