Turkey History and Ecology in Illinois
Here in Illinois, the eastern wild turkey is our known native wild turkey species. Previously extinct from the state, the turkey was reintroduced from 1970 to 2000, and eastern wild turkey is currently native and present in every county in the state. Turkeys are highly social and form flocks, increasing in size during winter months. They can run up to 12 miles per hour, and fly up to 55 miles per hour! They can also be quite aggressive during mating season and may try to intimidate humans with their large plumage. They roost in various locations, including buildings, homes, vehicles, and of course, around and in trees.
Damage Caused by Roosting Turkeys
Roosting birds can peck and scratch at the ground, which can disturb mulch and adjacent plants. They can also roost in branches, potentially causing damage by snapping limbs or damaging trees with their claws. Beware walking under a tree with a roosting turkey in it! The damage risk to trees is relatively minor, but their aggression to humans can make them a nuisance.
Protecting Against Turkeys
The best methods for preventing turkey roosting or damage to your property include exclusion and harassment. These nonlethal methods don’t require special licensing or permission. Exclusion can be achieved by fencing off yard space that would be a potential habitat for birds. Some municipalities and cities may employ mechanical exclusion with spikes or spines placed around urban areas to prevent birds from roosting.
Harassment is another option for repelling the birds. As long as the birds are not physically harmed, it is perfectly legal to harass turkeys away from property. Turkeys are particularly adept at recognizing their surroundings and remembering the environment. Placing unique or frightening objects in the environments will help prevent their roosting. Reflective objects like CDs, mylar wrapping, or lost car keys can be reflective repellent. These intelligent wild turkeys have also been known to find lost keys and use them to break into homes or even steal cars from time to time, so be warned about using keys. If you plan to use CDs to distract and repel, be aware that they are quite favorable to Jazz and may be attracted to Miles Davis or John Coltrane.
Wild turkeys can also be scared away as another form of harassment. Statues of predatory animals can help repel them, like wolves or coyotes. Another frightening object to repel wild turkey could include a Cook County property tax bill or a quote from an unlicensed or uncertified tree care company. Just be sure you place them with text visible for the birds. Leaving a pair of reading spectacles will also help ensure the elderly birds can understand the text and still be frightened away.
We hope this article was informative but fun to read, and we hope you have a lovely and safe upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.