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102 Cards in this Set

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Turkey Population status
-By all accounts, wild turkeys were abundant in pre-colonial America.
-Mature forests dominated landscapes, with occasional openings by natural events such as fire or windstorms
-Birds remained abundant through the early 1800’s
-By latter half of 1800’s early 1900’s decline was beginning to occur
-Wholesale forest cutting
-Unregulated subsistence and market hunting
-Gobblers and hens hunted year round, often over bait
-Better access to forests and flocks provided by new roads and railroads
Turkey population status 2
-Inventory on 1941 indicated ~ 13,500 turkeys over a range of less than 10,00 square acres
-3/4 of turkeys were in Lower Coastal Plain on large land holdings and in major river bottoms
-5 counties were thought to have over 1,000 turkeys each
-Turkeys rebounded as a result of
-State game laws
-Fund from Pittman-Robertson Act
-By mid-1970’s ~ 250,000 birds on 31,000 square miles
-Today it is estimated that ~ 500,000 birds occupy over 35,000 square miles
Description and Life History for Turkeys
-Largest game bird native to Alabama
-Gobblers average about 17 pounds, up to 21, depending on age and winter supplies
-Hens average between 8 and 11 pounds
-Exposed feathers of the gobbler are iridescent and tips of breast feathers are black-tipped
-Feathers of hens are less iridescent and tips of breast feathers are buff colored
-Gobblers have colorful caruncles around the head and neck which change color.
-Gobblers have a beard, which grown from the middle of the breast and varies depending on age.
-Hens will grow beards on occasion
-Gobblers have spurs in their legs, hens do not
-Length of spur can be used as an aging method to distinguishing jakes from older birds
Scientific name for Turkeys
-Meleagris gallopavo
5 subspecies of the wild turkey in the US, portions of southeastern Canada, and northern Mexico
-The eastern wild turkey is the native subspecies of the eastern US
-Florida- M. g. Osceola
-Merriam’s M. g. merriami
-Rio Grade- M. g. intermedia
-Gould’s - M. g. Mexicana
Mating Season for Turkeys
-Period occurring from ~ March-June
-Turkeys flock together during the winter; first events of the reproductive cycle begin during this time
-Males will begin to gobble before leaving their roosts at daybreak
-Begin strutting with tails raised and fanned, body feathers puffed out, and wings dragging the ground.
-“boss” gobblers are established though this method and will begin asserting their presence towards the females before the winter flocks have broken up
-Gobbling, strutting, drumming, and fighting among males increase as spring progresses
-Antisocial behavior of gobblers and hens instinct to being nesting causes the winter flock to partially disband
-Breeding males are often accompanied by a harem of hens, up to 6-8, but usually 2-3.
Mating season habitat use for Turkeys
-3-4 weeks after gobbling begins, area used by the combined winter flock increases in size due to dispersal of individuals and smaller groups
-A winter flock of 20 or more birds may only use 50 acre home range in which to roost, feed, and loaf during early March
-After the flock breaks up, they may disperse over several miles.
Reproduction for Turkeys
-Egg laying usually beings in late March to early April
-While hens are laying their clutch, they will visit a gobbler, although one gobbler probably fertilized the entire clutch.
-Lays the entire clutch in ~ 2 weeks
-egg laying varies, but most hens lay one egg a day usually in the middle of the day
-Incubation begins a day or two after laying is complete
- ~ 28 days of incubation to hatch a clutch and all eggs hatch within one day
-Nest during incubation are very susceptible to predation and disturbance
-If nest is destroyed early in incubation, hens will renest
Reproduction for Turkeys 2
-Hens that lose their nest later in incubation will go into a non-reproductive phase until the following spring
-Land management activities such as silviculture should be kept to a minimum during nesting to prevent potential predation
-Peak of the hatch appears to be during the last half of May
-Young poults have been observed in early April and as late as September
-Greater than 50% of nests are unsuccessful due to predation or abandonment
Turkey Brood Rearing
-First poults to appear may do so several hours before the eggs that were laid last
-Poults are kept in nests until all eggs hatch
-Once hen and brood leave nest, they do not return
-Poults can fly to roost on low branches by 10 days old
-By 18 days they are strong fliers
- ~ 2 to 3 weeks of age, they start roosting in trees, greatly increasing chance of survival
-Communication between hen and poults is excellent
-Obey vocal commands and stay hidden until her call announces safety
-Range expands as poults grow
Turkey brood rearing 2
-During spring and summer months, the borders of agricultural fields, pastures, old fields, and new forest regeneration sites provide insects, and vegetation needed for rapid growth
-Growth slows and may halt during winter
-One half to nearly ¾ of poults die before they are 2 weeks old
-Survival is directly related to proximity of nesting sites to brood rearing habitats
-Survival may also directly related to type of brood rearing habitat chosen
-Grass or forb vegetation with some shrub or tree cover
-Upland hardwood sites were avoided
-Selected areas with fewer large trees, less shrub-level vegetation, and denser herbaceous vegetation than unsuccessful hens
Fall and Winter Period for Turkeys
-Fall flocks usually consist of adult hens and their poults
-Old gobblers segregate into distinct groups or solitary
-By winter, young of the year gobblers have separated from family flocks to form young gobbler flocks
Annual Turkey Population Levels
-Brood size varies greatly both within and between years
-On average, between 4 and 10 poults per brood
-The number of broods observed each year varies more than brood size
-Fall population is dependent on the number of broods produced and average brood size
-Populations in small sections have been known to fluctuate as much as 50% from one year to the next
-Results of poor nesting success and low brood survival
-One good year can offset declines
Annual Turkey Population Levels 2
-Mortality high among very young and very old
-Once poults reach 12 weeks, they have an increasing likelihood of surviving though the first year
-A good year is a 3-1 poult to hen ratio
-Average lifespan is 1-1½ years
Limiting Factors for Turkey
-Habitat Loss
-Disease and Parasites
-Dr. George Hurst (how he put them) pg. 147
-Habitat alteration
Habitat loss for Turkey
-Scarcity of habitats constitutes the main limiting factor
-In favorable habitats, it’s possible to maintain a flock on 640 acres
-Changing land use practices are primary factors that reduce quality and quantity of habitat turkey abundance
-Most producing hardwoods are cut and replaced with pine plantations
-Marginal agricultural lands that once produced soybeans, etc… converted to pine plantations under CRP
-As with other wildlife, mosaic of habitats needed to provide suitable sites for turkey populations
Weather for Turkey
-Severe deviations from normal can decrease turkey populations
-In the southeast, flooding or prolonged rains during the nesting and brood rearing season can be limiting factor
-Drought could potentially cause problems, by doesn’t happen much in southeast
-Cold have little effect
Disease and Parasites for Turkeys
-Under wild conditions are density dependent
-Most detrimental are those introduced with the release of pen-reared birds
-Pen-reared birds can be immune to disease and can infect wild populations
-Blackhead (histomaniasis), avian pox, and coccidiosis are example of diseases spread from domestic poultry and pen-reared turkey to wild populations
Blackhead (histomoniasis)

-Blackhead is an acute or chronic protozoan disease (histomonas meleagridis) of fowl, primarily affecting the cecae and liver
-The disease is present wherever poultry…
-It may cause stunted growth, poor feed utilization and death
-It is of lesser economic importance in chickens since they are more resistant, but the incidence in chickens apparently is increasing
-The organism is passed in the fecal material of infected birds
-In many instances, the organism is shed within the eggs of the cecal worm of chickens, turkeys, and game birds
-Free-living blackhead organisms do not survive long in nature, but those in cecal worm eggs may survive for years
-Most transmission is due to ingesting infected cecal worm eggs
-Transmission may also occur by the earthworm
Avian Pox

-Avian pox is a relatively slow-spreading viral disease in birds, characterized by wart-like nodules on the skin and necrotic membranes lining the mouth and upper respiratory system.
-It has been present in birds since the earliest history
-Mortality is not usually significant unless the respiratory involvement is marked
-The disease may occur in any age of bird, at any time

-Affects most species of poultry, waterfowl, game birds, and pigeons
-Increased mortality of the young (2 to 18 weeks of age)
-Affected birds will be depressed, have ruffled feathers, be reluctant to move, and often the feathers around the vent will be soiled with fecal material due to diarrhea
-In severe cases bloody droppings may be observed

-Aflotoxicosis is poisoning that results from ingestion of aflotoxins in contaminated food or feed
-The afl. Are a group of structurally reflected toxic compounds produced by certain strains of the fungi Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus
Disease and Parasites for Turkeys we discussed
1. Blackhead (histomoniasis)
2. Avian Pox
3. Coccidiosis
4. Aflotoxins
Predation for Turkeys
-Overall mortality is substantial
- ~ ½ of all hens and ~ 1/3 of gobblers die each year
-Mortality of hens is highest during nesting and brood-rearing seasons when hens stay on the ground overnight with nests
-In Miss. 92% of hen deaths were caused by predation, and most (69%) occurred during nest and brood rearing season
-Gobblers are usually hardy once they mature, and hunters become their main predator
-Free ranging dogs, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, and owls prey on grown turkeys
Predation for Turkeys 2
-Eggs and young poults are preyed upon by multitude of species
-Raccoons are number one predator on turkey nests and eggs
-Skunks important predator, also consumed by opossums, crows, foxes, hawks, owls, snakes
-In a 6 year study, >50% of nests and 70% of poults were lost directly as result of predation
-Feral hogs also can destroy turkey nests
-Can compete with turkeys for food
-Cause damage to food plots
Predation for Turkeys 3
-Studies have not documented fire ants as a substantial nest predator although studies in Texas show reduced reproduction in areas with very high fire and densities.
-Coyotes appear to be minor predators, however free ranging dogs and cats should be controlled
-Creating high quality habitat to help turkeys withstand predation pressure and reproduce more consistently is best use of time over predator control activities
General habitat components for Turkey
-Generally speaking, suitable turkey habitat includes a scattering or mature mast producing hardwoods, mainly oaks
-A mixture of mid-story, like dogwood and wild cherry, which provide food and cover are also needed
-Make use of green plants and seed heads found in pastures, fields, roadside, etc…
Food and Feeding for Turkey
-Optimistic feeders
-Feed by scratching, clipping, stripping, and ingesting whole food items
-During spring, green grasses and leaves are consumed in large quantities
-Summer and early fall, picking and stripping methods are used to eat ripened seed heads of grasses and other plants
-Late fall through early spring, scratching in leaves for acorns and berries in primary feeding methods
Food and Feeding for Turkeys 2
-Young poults during the first 2 weeks of life feed primarily on insects
-1st week of life, they feed on 90% animal matter
-By a month in age, diet is predominantly vegetation
-The benefit from supplemental plantings such as chufa, an excellent winter food source
-Several varieties of clover, wheat, rye, oats, corn, soybeans, cowpeas, vetch, and Bahia grass make excellent plantings for turkeys.
Water for Turkeys
-Long thought to be important part of habitat
-Past recommendations suggested 4 water sources available at ~ 1 square mile
-New studies suggest they can get all necessary water from food mineral
Cover for Turkeys
-Requirements change with season of year in relation to turkey’s life cycle
-Nesting cover and brood rearing cover are most critical types of cover for turkeys
-Mature timber for roosting
-Need several suitable roosting sites as they seldom roost in the same place on successive nights.
Nesting Cover for Turkeys
-In forest stands, nesting cover characterized by open overstories and well-developed understories
-Understory vegetation should be composed of herbaceous and shrub vegetation up to 3 ft. in height
-Nests are often located under logging slash, brush, vines, or at the base of a tree
-Abandoned fields, 3-7 years old timber regeneration sites, utility right-of-ways, forest/field edges, can provide nesting cover
Brood rearing cover for Turkeys
-Should provide visual protection for poults
-Allow them to feed
-Be low enough for hen to have unobstructed vision for predators
-Improved pastures, hayfields, grain fields, cutcover hardwoods, etc…
-Food plots left in wheat, oats, and clover throughout the summer
Habitat improvement practices for Turkey
-Habitat inventory
-Patchwork succession
-Hardwood management
-Pine management
-Prescribed fire
-Managed openings
-Supplemental plantings
-Direct feeding
Habitat Inventory for Turkey
-Aerial photographs, soil maps, topography maps
-Assess existing turkey habitat
-Close examination reveals what each habitat type offers turkeys
-Landowner knowledge
-Making use of adjacent landowner properties
-Ground truthing
-You have to get out on landowners property and walk it
Hardwood Management for Turkeys
-As much acreage as possible should be left in hardwood stands that offer a variety of oak species
-Most oaks begin to bear acorns around 20-25 years of age
-Best mast producing age (50 to 100 years or 14-24 dbh)
-A mix of oak species foresters better overall acorn production
-A diversity of white oaks and red oaks will increase the chances of an acorn crop each year
-The presence of other mast producing trees such as beech and hickory will provide food during acorn shortages
-Before a given percentage of available hardwood is harvested, and equal percentage should be entering the best period of mast production
-Harvest rotation of oaks should be 60-100 years
Hardwood Management for Turkeys 2
-Riparian Zones
-Should be targeted for mast production
-These areas often contain less desirable species and if possible can be removed to favor other mast producing trees
-In small stands, remove poor mast producers to let younger vigorous trees reach their potential
-If clear cuts are necessary, no more than 25-50 acres
-Soft mast production
-Wild turkeys also need soft mast produced by dogwood (most important), grape, wild cherry, huckleberry, blackberry, etc…
-Dogwood critical as a fall food source in bad acorn years
Hardwood Management for Turkeys 3
-Forest floor sunlight
-Trees should not be so dense as they completely shade out the understory
-Trees should develop a full crown, but spacing assures sunlight reached the forest floor
-Mature mine or pine hardwoods are good turkey habitat, and better than young pine plantations
- Tall pines are used for roosting and seed for food source
o Streamside management zones comprised of strips of mature hardwood can provide winter habitat and improve pine plantation landscapes for turkeys
o When stands are harvested, turkeys use cutovers for a couple of years
Pine management for Turkeys
o Pine plantations remain too dense for turkeys until about 10 years of age
o At ~10 years
-Pine canopies close, understories are sparse enough for turkeys use, but usually devoid of food items
o In middle age plantations, from 10-20 years
-Thinning of up to ½ of volume in conjunction with prescribed fire opens up dense stands to allow understory growth for turkeys
-Fire becomes key, but ONLY with pine. Never burn hardwoods.
o Managind strictly for short rotation pine pulpwood on large acreages in continuous blocks does not provide turkey habitat
o Clear cuts should be irregular in shape to increase edge
Prescribed burning for Turkeys
-Longleaf, shortleaf, loblolly and slash pine are fire resistant except I early seedling and sapling stage
-Controlling undergrowth in pin habitat can be an excellent turkey management practice
-Hardwoods should be excluded from burn sites
-Fire will increase availability of food sources
Prescribed Burning for Turkeys 2
-Prescribed burns should generally be conducted during January and February, although its very site and management specific.
-Two primary theories on how to burn
-Low intensity burns over 1/3 to ½ of are
-Compartment burns which are hotter fires
-In general, cooler spot fires will provide the mosaic of habitats while clearing some brush
Managing openings for Turkeys
-Turkeys prefer openings of 5-20 acres
-About 10% of overall acreage should be maintained as open habitat
-Maximize existing openings before expense of creating new ones
-Right of ways, old roads, railroads, etc…
-Borders of cropland can be planted to suit turkey habitat
Supplemental plantings for Turkeys
-Very useful for turkeys and can be done in conjunction with primary land use
-Winter wheat, soybeans, peanuts, etc…
-Chufa, a nut sedge, is most favored
-Five acres of chufa per section can offset an acorn failure
-Clovers are good source of supplemental food
-Field corn can be beneficial
-Grain sorghum, millet, milo, etc…planted in strips so turkeys can travel areas.
Squirrel Taxonomy
-Sciurus niger
-Fox squirrel
-Sciurus carolinenis
-Gray squirrel
Habitat Preferences for Squirrels
-Gray Squirrels
-Dense mature hardwoods
-Oaks and hickories
-Understory of smaller trees and shrubs
-Fox squirrels
-Open forests
-Mixed pine hardwoods
-Oak, gum, cypress
2 other squirrels in Louisiana
-Tamias striatus – flying squirrel
-Glaucomys volans - Southern flying squirrel
Squirrel Morphology
-Gray squirrel
-creamy white bones
-peg premolar (5 cheek teeth)
-Fox squirrel
-reddish bones
-2 cheek teeth
Biology and Life History for Squirrels
-Female gray squirrels can produce two litters per year
-Litter size varies from 1 to 6, but usually between 2 and 4
-Major breeding periods are Dec. – Jan. and May. – Jun. but some breeding can occur throughout the year
-Some juveniles can produce broods, but usually only yearlings and adults breed
-Male squirrels are non-scrotal during the non-breeding season
-Several males locate female after a scent has been emitted by female
-Males chase for several days
-Dominant males assert themselves though aggressive confrontations
-Brief courtship before females breed
Biology and Life History for Squirrels 2
-Pregnancy lasts 44 days
-Young are hairless, about 4 ½ inches long, weigh ~ ½ ounces
-Eyes and ears are closed and no teeth have erupted
-Ears open at 3 weeks, eyes at 5 weeks
-At 5 weeks, squirrels 10 inches long, with a tail an additional 4 ½ inches
-Weaning begins in the 7th week
-By 7th week, some buds and leaves near nest can be eaten, bulk of diet still from mothers milk
-About time they are weaned in the fall, tree are producing acorns and dogwood fruit is plentiful
Biology and Life History for Squirrels 3
-Squirrels use tree cavities and leaf nests
-Young of both sexes practice building lodging
-Nests often become infested with high number of fleas, mites, ticks, etc…
-While most litters are reared in nest cavities, some summer litters are raised in tree nests
-Leaf nests are softer during summer period because surrounding green foliage protects the nest from aerial predators
Limiting Factors for Squirrels
Mortality for Squirrels
-High mortality rate during their first year.
-60% dying same year they are born
-Those that survive have the potential to live ~ 6 years in the wild
Predators for Squirrels
-Include rat snakes, hawks, great horned, and barred owls, red and gray foxes, bobcats, house dogs
Parasites for Squirrels
-Scabies or mange can be fatal to squirrels
-Scratch until bloody and hairless
-Then they are weakened, susceptible to predation, secondary infections, and weather.
-Bot fly larvae contracted (flies, dens, vectors)
-Can they hurt you? No
Parasites for Squirrels 2
-Warbles or bot fly ranks as most serious pest
-Fly lays eggs on the tree bark
-When eggs hatch, the larva attach to squirrel passing by
-Burrow under the skin around the shoulders and legs and develop into large grub
-Grub keeps a hole open in the skin to breathe
-Does not affect quality of meat, hunters frequently don’t eat infested squirrels
-Early fall is worst time
-Other parasites like ticks, fleas, lice
Weather for Squirrels
-Weather may be most limiting factor next to human caused habitat modification
-Too little can cause food shortages
-Too much can result in drowning of young
-Cold weather can reduce food in early spring
Population Dynamics for Squirrel
-Squirrel populations are very cycling
-When they expand beyond carrying capacity, mass movements and relocation to other areas take place, leaving few squirrels behind
-Involves thousands of animals, many of which die
-Unique limiting factor in that it helps improve the gene pool over a large area
-More available resources to go around until populations builds back up
-Takes ~ 5 years to reach previous population levels
Food habits for Squirrels
-Squirrel reproduction and survival fluctuate with changing availability of heavy-seeded mast, particularly acorns
-When available, they will feed on fruits, berries, and parts of flowers, buds, bark, roots, mushrooms, and some animal matter
- ~ 1 ½ pound of mast per week needed from Sept. – March
-Order of preference for hard mast is hickory nuts, beechnuts, and white and red acorns
-Mast failure during population peak is prime cause for mass movements
Cover Requirements for Squirrels
-Hollow dens are essential for winter shelter and rearing of young
-Survival of litters is usually about 2 ½ times higher in den trees compared to leaf nests
-Adult females with young will not tolerate other squirrels in same tree
-Should have 2-6 quality den trees for each acre of habitat
-Identified, marked, and protected from management options
-Adult squirrels will “set up house” in at least 2 den trees in their home range
-Range size varies from ~ 1 ½ to 8 acres
-If den trees are limiting, artificial nest boxes can be used as an effective substitute
Water Requirements for Squirrels
-Use a variety of water sources
-Enough moisture can be taken from succulent plants to satisfy water requirements
-Still prefer to have water sources no farther than ¼ mile from nest to den
Habitat Improvements for Squirrels
-Large parts of improving habitat involves providing year round food sources
-Even age pine management is seldom compatible with optimum habitat
-To ensure ample food, mixture of hardwood or mixed-pine hardwoods should be managed on 60-100 year rotation
-Thinning and selective harvests should remove inferior trees
-40 – 60 % of area should be left in trees of mast-producing age (25-30 years for most oaks)
-Clear cuts more disruptive than small selection cuts of ¼ to 1 acre
-Clear cutting large areas are detrimental and these areas are lost to squirrels for atleast 25 years
Habitat Improvements for Squirrels 2
-Cuts should be a maximum of 20 acres and 500 ft in width or less
-Streamside management zones should be maintained with hardwood species
-Should be wide enough that they cannot be seen through in winter
-Isolated clusters should not be left
-Corridors should be maintained
Harvest Requirements for Squirrels
-Hunting popularity second only to deer hunting
-Some areas receive high hunting pressure
-Care may need to be taken to reduce hunting in relation to squirrel availability and foods
-Should try to assess both mast availability and squirrel abundance
-Mast abundance usually determined in September
-Presence/abundance of mast using binoculars
-If evidence suggests high populations in year with low mast, should be heavily hunted
-Will reduce number short term before food becomes limited
-If un-hunted, mass movements may occur
Harvest Requirements for Squirrels 2
-If food is plentiful, but no squirrels, hunting pressure may be too heavy
-When both are plentiful, hunting pressure should be heavy
-Squirrels reproduction during heavy mast years is usually high
-Key to continued abundance is availability of mixture of mature forest types
-Eastern cottontail
-Sylvilagus floridanus
-Swamp rabbit
-S. aquaticus
-Marsh rabbit
-S. palustris
-Mobile east
Biology and Life History for Rabbits
-Weather changes during late February – early March triggers start of breading season which extends through September
-Males are bucks and females are does
-Pregnancy lasts 28 days
-Females select well drained areas to construct nest cavity ~5 inches wide and inches long
-Nest lined with vegetation and topped with fur she pulls from her underside
-Litter varies from 1 to 7, but average 4
-Young are deaf, blind, and helpless
Biology and Life History for Rabbits 2
-Young remain hidden and within 14 days are strong enough to leave the mother and fend for themselves
-Cottontail may breed the same day the little is born and raise young 3 or 4 times during breeding season
-A new nest will be constructed for each successive litter
-This efficient reproduction is necessary to offset high mortality
-Potential lifespan is 8-10 years, but few reach 1 year in the wild
-Average life expectancy is 4-6 months
-Only 50% of those born are expected to leave the nest and of those; less than ½ survive till fall
Limiting Factors for rabbits
-Rabbits are one of the most heavily preyed upon animals
-Rabbits compose ~ 50% of the fox’s diet
-Nearly 75% of bobcat’s diet
-40% of great horned owls diet
-Cottontails, their nest and young are hunted by particularly every wild predator
Limiting Factors for rabbits 2
-Susceptible to a variety of disease and parasites, some of which are fatal
-Wolves, warbles, or bots. Same as squirrels. Meat is still edible. Think of a worm in an apple
-Fibroma is virus-induced black growth found on skin of cottontails
-Warty-appearing growth that is usually removed along with the hide
-Can be handled, cleaned, and eating if prefect safely
-Spread by ticks, mosquitos, etc
Tularemia (Pastuerella tularensis)

-Tularemia or “rabbit fever” is most important and deadly disease in rabbits
-Bacteria, capable of infecting wild birds and mammals, including humans
-Most commonly found in rodents and rabbits
-Density-dependent, and can decimate a population
-Infected rabbits die within 7-10 days following onset of illness
-Signs include sluggishness, slow reactions, and refusal to run
-Once in advanced stage, u can see white spots on organs
-Humans are susceptible, but respond well with antibiotics
Habitat Requirements for Rabbits
-Ideal habitat includes an abundance of well-distributed patches of brushy cover mixed with grass and weedy fields
-Cottontails move very little in good habitat making daily and seasonal ranges small.
- ~ 10 acres over their entire lifetime
-Rabbits eat a variety of plant food
-Grasses, sedges, sprouts, leaves, fruits, buds, bark
-Cover requirements resemble that of quail
-Surface water is not necessary and has no bearing on densities or distributions
-Cottontails are prolific and require little management for average populations
-Some hunters and landowners believe stocking ensures highest rabbit populations
-Only ~ 4% of stocked rabbits are harvested
Habitat Improvements for Rabbits
-Developing transition zones
-simply a third type of habitat type developed between two existing and different habitat types
-Provide a mixture of food and cover
Forest Management for Rabbits
-Prescribe burning is beneficial for rabbits
-Burn similar to methods to improve turkey habitat
Rabbit Harvest
-Populations are not harmed by heavy hunting pressure
-Have high natural mortality and management is somewhat compensatory
Distribution for Wood Ducks
-The wood duck is North America’s most widely distributed endemic species, and most of its wintering and breading range falls within the 48 contiguous states
-The wood duck inhabits forested wetlands and, because its need for nest cavities, is closely tied to North America…
- 3 distinct populations occur in NA: the Atlantic, Interior, and Pacific
-The Atlantic pop. Includes states of the Atlantic Flyway and southeastern Canada, the extreme northern range of the wood duck
-The interior pop includes wood ducks throughout the Mississippi flyway, part of Ontario, and the eastern tier of states in the Central flyway
Distribution for Wood Ducks 2
-Centrally northern portions of the Pacific and interior populations are contiguous
-The Pacific pop ranges principally from British Columbia outward into Washington, Oregon, California, northwestern Idaho, and western Montana, but small numbers of breeding wood ducks are also present in Nevada, Utah New Mexico, and Arizona
-Wood ducks breed throughout most of their range but are at particularly high breeding densities in the Mississippi alluvial valleys
Population status and Harvest for Wood ducks
-In early 1900’s wood duck numbers were so low people feared for extinction of the species
-Unregulated hunting during spring was primary factor
-Habitat loss and loss of nesting cavities also factors
-The average annual harvest before 1963 was less than 165,000 birds
-An annual average of 1,067,000 wood ducks was harvested in the US
Population status and Harvest for Wood ducks 2
-Current research and historic events suggest harvest regulations can have an effect on wood duck populations in some situations
-For example, northern birds are subject to continued harvest pressure as the migrate southward to winder because waterfowl hunting seasons open in succession from north to south
-Regulated hunting, research and management
-Increase in beavers, research in nest boxes, habitat preservation
-Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918
Scientific name for wood duck
Aix sponsa
Weight of wood duck in pounds
Adults - Male 1.5, Female 1.5
Immatures - Male 1.5, Female 1.4
Age at first breeding of wood duck
1 year
Clutch size for wood ducks
12 eggs, normal range 7-15
Incubation period for wood ducks
30 days, range 26-37
Wood duck Age at fledging
56-70 days
Wood duck Nest sites
tree cavities or artificial nest boxes within about .6 miles of water
Wood duck food habits
-Plant foods include primarily acorns, maple samaras, elm seeds, and moist-soil plant seeds.
-Animal foods consist mainly of aquatic-associated and non-aquatic insects. but also some aquatic invertebrates
Spring Migration and Breeding for Wood ducks
-In southern regions, wood ducks breed and winter in essentially the same areas.
-Birds that nest farther north begin northward movements in late winter
-Wood duck nests are initiated as early as late January in the South, early March in the Midwest, and mid March to early April in the North
-Migrating female wood ducks lack the fat and protein reserves necessary for egg production when they arrive on the breeding grounds
Nesting for Wood ducks
-Upon arrival, wood duck pairs disperse into forested and riparian habitats where females forage intensively in preparation for egg laying
-During this time, nesting pairs also begin searching for suitable cavities, primarily in tracts of forest adjacent to important waterways
-Although natural cavities within .3 miles of water and near forest canopy openings are preferred, wood ducks will nest up to .6 miles from water when necessary
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-The availability of suitable cavities varies within the wood ducks range because some tree species develop cavities more readily than others.
-Large trees, greater than 12 inches dhb, produce the most important cavities for wood ducks
-Cavities within an entrance size of greater than 3.5 inches, an interior basal area of greater than 40 square inches, and height greater than 6 feet above the ground are preferred for nesting
Reproduction for wood ducks
-Average clutch size is 12 eggs, but more than one female may contribute to a clutch (dump nest).
-These huge clutches are rarely incubated, but successful dump nests of less than 30 eggs are common in nest boxes
-A wood duck clutch is incubated for an average of 30 days at middle latitudes and a few days less in the South
-The bond between the female and her brood begins to weaken after about 4 weeks; ducklings fledge between 6 and 8 weeks.
-Some early-nesting females in southern latitudes renest, successfully producing two broods before finishing the Prebasic molt
Predation for Wood Ducks
-Female wood ducks and their broods are highly mobile
-Initial movements by broods after leaving a nest can be up to 2.4 miles but average .8 miles, mostly along waterways
-Shallowly flooded habitat with good understory cover, such as shrub-scrub or emergent vegetation, is the most important habitat for wood duck broods
-Duckling survival ranges from 36 to 65% with most mortality occurring the first week after hatching
-Common duckling predators include mink, raccoon, snapping turtle, bullfrog, large-mouth bass, and other predatory fish.
Behavior and Pairing for Wood Ducks
-Wood ducks begin courting before fall migration.
-Courting activity drops off during harsh weather in winter and resumes in spring
-Courtship activity is more intense in fall than spring; courting parties are larger and displays are longer and more frequent.
-Wood ducks breed as yearlings, but evidence suggests that only about 40% of the surviving yearling females nest each season
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-Yearling females produce smaller clutches and fledge fewer young than experienced nesters
-The productivity of young male wood ducks may also be low
-When compared with adult drakes, yearling males do not perform courtship displays with the proper orientation and timing
-Thus, early pairing by inexperienced males in unlikely
Foraging Ecology for Wood Ducks
-Food habits of adult wood ducks are sex related and seasonally driven.
-During winter, nearly 100% of the diet of wood ducks consists of plant foods, of which 75% may be acorns.
-An increase in animal foods in the diet (to about 35%) occurs in both sexes in early spring
-This percentage remains constant for the male wood duck through summer and fall, but increases to about 80% for the female during egg laying
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-Female wood ducks increase the amount of invertebrates in the diet to meet daily protein needs during egg laying.
-After egg-laying, animal foods compose less of the female's diet, while consumption of high energy seeds increases to meet the daily dietary requirements of incubation
Habitat Management for Wood Ducks
-The wood duck carries out its entire annual cycle within a forested wetland complex, including a mixture of habitats such as live forests, greentree reservoirs, rivers, oxbows, riparian corridors, beaver ponds, shrub-scrub, and robust emergent vegetation
-Such habitats have been destroyed or modified across the continent.
-For example, only 17% of the original forest acreage remains in the Mississippi alluvial valley today
-Detrimental effects on tree vigor and mast production
Improper flooding regimes
-Detrimental effects on tree vigor and mast production.
-Flooding before fall senescence or beyond dormancy into the growing season reduces mast production, causes tree damage, and may eventually kill trees
-Improper flooding regimes change tree species composition in a stand from desirable oak species that produce small acorns, easily eaten by waterfowl, to the more water-tolerant overcup oak, which produces very large acorns that are unsuitable for waterfowl food.
-Water depths less than 8 inches are ideal for foraging wood ducks, while loafing and roosting sites can be maintained where water levels are higher
Timber Management
-Most timber harvest practices remove large, overmature trees, the primary source of wood duck nest cavities
-A mix of species within a stand should be encouraged because desirable mast species may not form cavities
-Elm and maple are important components of most wood duck habitat because they provide protein-rich samaras in spring and suitable nest cavities
Nest boxes for Wood ducks
-Nest boxes are a useful management tool where natural cavities are scarce but good brood habitat is available
-Currently, nest box management may contribute approximately 150,000 juvenile wood ducks to fall flights in the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways.
-Although this constitutes only a small portion of the juvenile component in the eastern fall flight, nest boxes, when properly erected and maintained, can substantially increase local populations
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-Wood ducks will readily nest in boxes constructed of wood, metal, or plastic.
-Rough cut cypress boxes are durable,economical, and blend well with the environment within a few years
-Although plastic and metal boxes are durable, internal temperatures of boxes placed in the direct sun in the South are high enough to kill developing embryos
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-Boxes must be predator-proof.
-Inverted conical shields or smooth, wide pieces of metal wrapped around the pole or tree beneath a box can keep racoons and some snakes from entering boxes.
-Predation can also be discouraged by placing boxes on poles over water or by mounting boxes on bent metal brackets that suspend them 2 feet from a tree of post
-Annual maintenance and repair of boxes is necessary for continued use by wood ducks.
-Boxes with unsuccessful nests are unavailable for use until debris from the nest is removed
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-The frequency of box checks necessary for maintenance depends on climatic conditions and the types of use boxes receive during winter
-Number and placement patterns of nest boxes within habitats influences box use, nest success, and dump-nesting rates