“Oh nuts!” said the wild turkey. “There are only half as many acorns as last year.”
While 2013 yielded a bountiful black walnut, hickory nut and beech nut crop in our area, acorn production is down across Ohio. Every year, Ohio Division of Wildlife personnel generate statistics regarding Ohio’s annual acorn crop. This information is used to forecast wildlife harvest and reproductive success rates. It is normal for nut production to fluctuate by year across a given region, and 2012 was a high acorn production year – generating twice as many acorns as 2013.
What does this mean for the over 90 species of wildlife that use acorns as part of their preferred diet? Different wild foods will substitute. The wild turkey will spend more time foraging for other foods including insects, seeds, berries and even small reptiles or amphibians. For wildlife watchers and hunters who look for wild turkeys, deer, squirrels and other animals under the oak trees, it may mean finding them elsewhere this year.
So, when you see that astonishingly large, hungry wild turkey sneaking around under your bird feeder, it might be saying, “Oh nuts! I’d rather be having acorns!”
Penny Borgman, District Naturalist, Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve