HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – It’s not Thanksgiving, but state officials ask you to keep an eye out for turkey!
DEEP officials are encouraging Connecticut residents to take part in a unique task, by keeping a tally of all the hen turkeys, poults (young-of-the-year), and male turkeys they see from now through August 31. This would all be a part of the Wildlife Division’s Annual Wild Turkey Brood Survey.
The survey would allow DEEP’s biologists to study turkey productivity and reproductivity, assess annual fluctuations in their population, and determine if they need to recruit new birds into the fall population.
Officials said that the state’s wild turkey population has been relatively stable in the past, but at a lower level than its peak (which occurred in the mid-2000s).
In order to participate, volunteers can report their observations of turkeys online, or use a Wild Turkey Observation form that can be downloaded online. Both of these formats are found on the Wildlife Division’s website.
Anyone who is using the printed Wildlife Turkey Observation form, rather than the online form, is asked by DEEP officials to submit a final tally to the Wildlife Division by September 15.
“This is an excellent way to partner with the Wildlife Division to help better monitor the state’s wild turkey population,” said DEEP Wildlife Division Biologist Will Cassidy. “Participants should look carefully when counting turkey broods as the tiny, camouflaged poults may be difficult to spot in grasses and leaves.”
Cassidy stated that it can be hard to distinguish different wild turkeys you may come across, and if you aren’t sure of your sighting, to not report it. However, there are ways to distinguish what bird you may be looking at.
DEEP officials said hens are distinguished from males by size, plumage, and head characteristics. Hens typically are smaller than males (weighing about 8 to 10 pounds, whereas males will exceed 15 pounds).
Hens also have feathers at the top of their head that generally are blue/gray colors, while males have larger heads with prominent red, white, and blue coloration. A hen’s feathers appear light brown in color in contrast to the males’ black and iridescent feathering.