Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Richard D. Andrews


A total of 95 gizzards and 106 crops were collected from 120 wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris Vieillot) at hunter check stations located in Alexander, Jackson, Union, and Pope Counties during April 1970, and 1972-1974 inclusive. Results are presented using total aggregate volume and per cent occurrence. The analyses indicated that during April, 96.6% of the foods eaten were of plant origin. Important plant foods in decreasing order by volume included corn, acorns, grasses and sedges, clover, miscellaneous plant materials, Jack-in-the-pulpit, hickory nuts, black gum, swamp buttercup, spring beauty, soybeans, hill blueberry, hawthorn, and ash. Animal foods were of minor importance and combined to total 3.4% of the diet. Insects, snails, slugs, and a midwestern worm snake (Carphophis amoenus helenae) accounted for a major portion of this volume. Diets of gobblers shot in Alexander and Union Counties showed greater similarity with regard to plant and animal foods consumed, compared to the diets of Jackson County gobblers. Appropriate management programs should be directed towards interspersion of forested areas with clearings and water holes, and silvicultural practices that would provide qualitative and quantitative improvements of the understory. Recent adoption of even-aged silvicultural practices in Illinois may temporarily eliminate turkey populations in areas where extensive clear-cuts are made. Interspersion of smaller clear-cut areas (100-200 acres) would be of greater benefit to turkeys, whereas selective cuts and thinnings, where economically feasible, have the potential to increase the diversity and quantity of understory plants.