CONCORD — The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is urging people to report sightings of hen turkeys, with or without young, from now through the end of August through its web-based turkey brood survey at wildnh.com/turkeybroodsurvey.
“August tends to be the most important of the summer months for the survey,” said Fish and Game biologist Ted Walski. “By August, those young who have survived are pretty assured of becoming adults, so August sightings will provide the best index to the summer breeding productivity.”
Most sightings will be of “multiple hen” broods during August. It is common for hen turkeys to join together with their young later in the summer. This joint brood flock will often have poults of various sizes. Also, hens that have not successfully nested or that have lost their young will join a brood flock and act as a foster mother.
“Do not be surprised to observe some broods in August and September with small poults the size of quail or pigeons,” Walski said. “Re-nesting is common with wild turkeys. If something causes nest destruction or abandonment during May/June, the majority of hens will go and lay another clutch of eggs and hatch out in July or August.”
Last summer was the first year of Fish and Game’s web-based turkey brood survey, which yielded a total of 808 turkey broods reported from all parts of the state between May and August.
This year, biologists are hoping to see an increase in the number of reports of turkey broods, particularly in northern New Hampshire and along the western side of the state in Sullivan and Grafton counties. So far, nearly 400 turkey brood sightings have been reported — just under half of the reports that were received last year.
“So far, the majority of sightings have come from Southern New Hampshire, which corresponds to higher densities of both turkeys and people,” said Mark Ellingwood, Wildlife Division Chief at N.H. Fish and Game. “All the reports are helpful, but we especially need more observations from north of the Lakes Region and along the Connecticut River.”