CONCORD — The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is asking for the public’s help in tracking wild turkey broods in New Hampshire this spring and summer. It’s easy to take part, and the survey opens June 1. If you observe groups of turkeys with poults (juvenile birds) between June 1 and August 31, report your sightings on NH Fish and Game’s web-based turkey brood survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/2019_Brood_Survey.
“The information survey participants provide helps us monitor the turkey population,” said Kent Gustafson, NH Fish and Game Wildlife Programs Supervisor. “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.” In 2018, summer brood survey participants reported seeing 577 broods with an average of 4.15 poults per hen, up from 3.32 poults per hen in August 2017. The average 2018 hatch date was June 20.
Biologists are especially interested in getting more reports of turkey broods in the three northernmost New Hampshire counties: Coos, Carroll, and Grafton.
The term “brood” refers to a family group of young turkeys accompanied by a hen. New Hampshire hens generally begin laying eggs sometime from mid-April to early May and complete their clutch of about 12 eggs in early to mid-May. Incubation lasts for 28 days, and most eggs 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 July through late August. Reports of adult male turkeys are not being requested at this time.
Many factors can affect turkey productivity in any given year. Young turkey chicks are extremely sensitive to cool temperatures and rain, both because it can impact their health, and also because these conditions can adversely impact insect populations that are a critical source of nutrition for young turkeys. Since spring weather is highly variable, survival of the annual hatch of wild turkeys is also highly variable.
Turkey populations depend on a large annual influx of young turkeys to sustain themselves over time, so the number of young turkeys that survive to be “recruited” into the fall population is of great interest to turkey managers. A large sample of turkey brood observations collected throughout the summer provides turkey managers with insight into the size of the “graduating class” of turkeys that will become adults.
To learn more about the survey, visit: www.wildnh.com/surveys/turkeybrood.html.