Internet Winter Turkey Flock Survey – 2010 Results

Ted Walski and Mark Ellingwood, NH Fish and Game Department

Number of Turkeys Observed
The winter of 2010 was the second year of our recently established internet winter turkey flock survey. Information gathered through the survey (January 6 - March 31, 2010) included: number of turkeys observed; date and location of observation; habitat where flocks were observed and; what the flock was feeding on.

A total of 1,279 flocks were reported through the survey, totaling 19,050 individual turkey observations. As expected, the northernmost Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) (A, B, C1, C2) had very low sighting rates because of both modest turkey and modest human densities. WMUs J2, K, L, M in southeast and south-central portions of the state had the most numerous reports, with a high of 239 flock reports in WMU M in the southeast corner of New Hampshire.

The number of turkeys reported per WMU varied from a low of 47 in WMU C1 to a high of 3,493 in WMU M. The average number of turkeys per flock ranged from 7.2 turkeys per flock in WMU A to 20.2 turkeys per flock in WMU H1. Combining all the flock observations from our state’s 18 WMUs yielded an average sighting rate of 14.9 turkeys per flock. See Table 1 (below) for detailed information.

Table 1. Turkey observation data reported in the 2010 Internet Winter Flock Survey.
 
WMU Flocks seen Turkeys seen Turkeys seen per flock (range) Average seen per flock
A
9
65

3-20

7.22
B
9
89

1-32

9.89
C1
6
47

3-15

7.83
C2
5
58

8-16

11.6
D1
21
330

3-65

15.71
D2
63
898

1-42

14.25
E
39
370

1-25

9.49
F
17
253

1-41

14.88
G
123
1613

1-45

13.22
H1
57
1149

1-100

20.16
H2
73
1084

1-54

14.85
I1
70
1236

2-60

17.66
I2
57
774

1-38

13.58
J1
49
549

1-30

11.2
J2
169
2740

2-85

16.21
K
129
2112

1-100

16.37
L
144
2190

1-55

15.21
M
239
3493

1-99

14.68
Total
1279
19050
 
Avg.= 14.9

Food Use
Of 1,253 flocks that could be evaluated for food use, 259 (21%) were not feeding, and 356 (28%) were consuming unknown food items. The remaining 638 flocks (51%) were observed using identifiable food items.

Of those flocks where food use could be determined, 298 flocks (47%) were feeding at bird feeders. An additional 90 flocks (14%) were consuming apples/crabapples, 94 (15%) were consuming grasses and other vegetation in wet areas, and 61 flocks (10%) were eating acorns or beechnuts. Corn wastage in manure and corn ensilage at bunker silos was used by 74 flocks (12%). See Table 2 below, for additional food use details.

Table 2. Basic food categories used by turkey flocks throughout New Hampshire reported on the 2010 Internet Winter Flock Survey.

Food category # of Flocks using food item % of Flocks using food item
Acorns/beechnuts
61
9. 6%
Apples/crabapples
90
14.1%
Birdfeeder
298
46.7%
Corn in manure
34
5.3%
Corn ensilage
40
6.3%
Grasses/greens
94
14.7%
Berries/rosehips
14
2.2%
Fern spore-heads
7
1.1%
 
N= 638 flocks
100%

Habitat Use
Statewide habitat selection by observed flocks included residential (36%), woodland (29%), farmland (19%), and “other” habitats (15%). A significant portion of the “other” category listed assorted fields and open lands as the habitat type.

Table 3. Habitat use by WMU, for winter flocks reported in the 2010 Internet Winter Flock Survey.

WMU Farmland Residential Woodland Other
A
44.4%
11.1%
33.3%
11.1%
B
25.0%
--
50.0%
25.0%
C1
--
50.0%
16.7%
33.3%
C2
--
60.0%
40.0%
--
D1
42.9%
38.1%
14.9%
4.8%
D2
44.4%
25.4%
15.9%
14.3%
E
2.7%
24.3%
54.1%
18.9%
F
17.6%
41.2%
35.3%
5.9%
G
23.6%
25.2%
30.1%
21.1%
H1
31.6%
35.1%
21.1%
12.3%
H2
19.2%
26.0%
39.8%
15.1%
I1
22.9%
30.0%
35.7%
11.4%
I2
12.5%
37.5%
26.8%
23.2%
J1
14.3%
18.4%
55.1%
12.2%
J2
28.3%
30.1%
28.3%
13.3%
K
11.6%
41.1%
37.2%
10.1%
L
18.3%
40.9%
23.9%
16.9%
M
8.1%
8.1%
21.4%
17.5%
 
Avg. = 19.4%
Avg. = 36.0%
Avg. = 29.3%
Avg. = 15.4%

Conditions Last Winter
Turkeys fared extremely well last winter due to low snow depths and duration, coupled with the early onset of spring conditions. Modest snow-cover provided turkeys with excellent mobility and access to natural foods. Turkeys ate a lot of apples and acorns and fed from bare ground throughout much of the winter. Because of mild conditions and good food access, turkeys began gobbling and displaying by January 15th and continued throughout most of the winter.

Current Turkey Population Status
New Hampshire’s statewide turkey population is currently estimated at 45,000 turkeys. There are turkeys in every town in the state. We’ve come a long way since the successful reintroduction of 25 turkeys by the Fish and Game Department in New Hampshire in 1975.

Last winter’s “turkey-friendly” weather coupled with spring weather conducive to high nesting success should culminate in high turkey flock sightings this winter. Thanks for your interest in the Granite State’s turkey population and in our Winter Flock Survey!

 


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