At the end of July, 382 turkey brood observations had been reported in New Hampshire. Only 13 percent were from the northern half of the state. Regionally, so far there have been just five reports from the North Region, 22 from West Central New Hampshire (Lebanon to Lancaster), 19 from the White Mountains region, 82 from southwestern New Hampshire, 64 from the East Central region (Freedom to Farmington) and 190 from southeastern New Hampshire.
Some helpful background for turkey observers: 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.
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. The mildest winter in 40-plus years, and the earliest spring “green-up” stimulated early turkey breeding and nesting.
Most of this year’s hatching occurred around the middle of May. An early summer sample of 35 single hen broods from May/June gave a favorable average of 6.7 poults per hen.
New this summer, the survey includes a section intended to help assess public attitudes about wild turkeys in the state. Conducted in cooperation with the University of New Hampshire, data from the Summer Turkey Brood Survey and the 2012 Winter Turkey Flock Survey relating to public attitudes will be compiled and analyzed as part of a Master’s of Science project to assess public attitudes and interest in monitoring wild turkeys.
It will also provide Fish and Game biologists with information that will enhance their ability to recruit and retain “citizen scientists.” The combined use of biological and human dimensions surveys will aid both turkey management and promote public participation in wildlife management overall.