As the summer continues, Fish and Game officials are asking the public to report sightings of hen turkeys, with or without young, through the department’s online survey.
This year’s survey continues through Aug. 31, and provides data for the department’s biologists.
“The information survey participants provide helps us monitor the turkey population,” Fish and Game Wildlife Programs Supervisor Daniel Bergeron said in a news release. “This survey results in reports from all over the state and adds to the important information biologists gather to monitor changes in turkey productivity, distribution, abundance, turkey brood survival, and the timing of nesting and hatching.”
“Observations made in late July and August are especially important,” said Fish and Game turkey biologist Allison Keating. “Those young who have survived into August are likely to become adults, so these sightings provide the best index to summer breeding productivity.”
According to Keating, brood reports would be especially welcome this summer to help determine if weather hurt production of young and how much re-nesting occurred.
Turkey hatching conditions for the spring of 2020 were not ideal, she said, with extended periods of extremely dry weather in late May and June.
“Some young turkeys will be quite large in August, almost the size of an adult hen, because of earlier hatching during the second half of May and early June. Smaller-size poults in August are a result of a second nesting, when the first nest or clutch of eggs is lost,” explained Keating.
The term “brood” refers to a family group of young turkeys accompanied by a hen. New Hampshire hens generally begin laying eggs from mid-April to early May and complete their clutch of about 12 eggs in early to mid-May, according to the news release.
Incubation lasts for 28 days, and most nests hatch from late May to mid-June. If incubating turkey eggs are destroyed or consumed by predators, hens often lay a replacement clutch of eggs that hatch late June through late August.
“Many thanks to all who have reported hens with young turkeys so far this year, and please keep reporting your sightings,” said Keating. “The data provided by these citizen scientists are a huge help in determining the success of our turkey population.”
The department also asked people to report sightings of any adult turkeys that have wart-like growths around the head and eyes which would be indicative of the Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus. To learn more about identifying and reporting wild turkey viruses, visit www.wildnh.com/turkeys/turkey-virus.
To learn more about the annual Turkey Brood Survey or to record sightings, visit www.wildnh.com/surveys/turkeybrood.html.