Concealment cover is important for ground-roosting wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) poults immediately following hatch during the vulnerable, preflight stage. We compared concealment cover resources selected at ground roosts to those of nest sites and available resources for Merriam's turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo merriami) in the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA. Females with preflight poults selected ground roosts that were similar in structure to nest sites. Ground roosts and nests were greater in visual obstruction (unit odds ratios ≥1.19) than random sites. However, ground roosts were closer to meadow–forest edges than either nests or random sites (unit odds ratios ≤0.98). Structure at ground roosts may provide visual protection from predators, and management for shrub vegetation or woody debris along meadow–pine forest ecotones will provide cover for Merriam's turkey broods.
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Vol. 74 • No. 2