Observations made in late July and August are especially important, officials say. (Courtesy photo NHFG)
CONCORD, N.H. - As the summer months continue, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department reminds the public to report sightings of hen turkeys, with or without young, through the Department's online survey at: www.wildnh.com/surveys/turkeybrood.html.
The survey continues through August 31, providing data that helps Fish and Game biologists determine the distribution and abundance of wild turkeys throughout the State. Last summer's survey (2016) yielded a record number of 2,926 brood observation reports.
"Observations made in late July and August are especially important," said Fish and Game turkey biologist Ted Walski. "Those young who have survived into August are likely to become adults, so these sightings provide the best index to summer breeding productivity."
Brood reports would be especially welcome this summer, to help determine if weather hurt production of young, and how much re-nesting occurred. According to Walski, turkey hatching weather for spring of 2017 was not good, with extended periods of rain in late May and June. There was even a significant snowfall in much of the State on May 14. "The size of some young turkeys will be quite large in August, almost the size of the 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 Walski.
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.
"Many thanks to all who have reported hens with young turkeys so far this year, and please keep reporting your sightings," said Walski. "These reports from volunteer observers are a big help in determining how successful turkey nesting was for the year."
The Department also reminds everyone to report sightings of any adult turkeys that have wart-like growths around the head/eyes which would be indicative of the Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus (LPDV).
Wildlife research and management in New Hampshire is funded in part by Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration, a user-pay, user-benefit program supported by your purchase of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment.