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 month in the summer survey,” said Fish and Game biologist Ted Walski. “By August, those young who have survived are likely to become adults, so these sightings 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.
“Don’t 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’s survey yielded a total of 1,119 turkey broods reported from all parts of the state between May and August. So far, more than 400 turkey brood sightings have been reported.
“We’re probably going to see fewer poults per hen this year because of the wet weather during the nesting period,” Walski said. “Another factor is that frequent rains have delayed the hay harvest in some areas, making turkeys harder to spot in the fields.”
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.