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How many turkeys? DEEP encourages participation in annual brood survey

Observers are asked to look out for hens, the female turkey, poults, which are the young birds, and males, also known as toms or jakes.
Credit: Michele Titus via DEEP
The DEEP Wildlife Division is asking residents to keep a tally of all sightings of hen turkeys and poults (young-of-the-year) from June 1 through Aug. 31 as part of the Wildlife Division’s Annual Wild Turkey Brood Survey. Final results are then submitted to the Division to help with monitoring Connecticut’s wild turkey population. (DEEP)

HARTFORD, Conn. — Have you seen any families of turkeys roaming around Connecticut lately? State biologists want to know about it.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is continuing its annual wild turkey brood survey and is asking the public to help count the turkey population.

The community science project started June 1 and will continue through Aug. 31.

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Surveyors can record their sightings using an online form or a downloadable paper form from DEEP's website.

One observation is recorded at a time, with the total number of turkeys observed.

Observers are asked to look out for hens, the female adult turkey, poults, which are the young birds, and males, also known as toms or jakes.

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What are the differences between a tom and a hen? Hens are usually smaller, around eight to 10 lbs, with blue/gray feathering on the top of their head. Hens have light brown plumage. Toms will be larger, around 15 lbs, with larger heads with red, white, and blue coloration, along with black and iridescent feathers.

If it's difficult to get a precise count of the flock, DEEP asks observers to skip reporting that sighting to maintain accuracy.

Biologists with DEEP will use the citizen-collected data to determine turkey productivity and reproductive success, compare it to results from past years for possible population fluctuations, and evaluate the need to recruit more turkeys in the fall.

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The state's population of turkeys remains to be healthy and productive, but a bit lower than its peak in the mid-2000s, DEEP said.

In 2021, an average of 3.3 poults per adult hen were observed.

There are many other community science opportunities year-round from DEEP, involving observations of birds and their nests, bobcats and fisher cats. For more details, click here.

FOX61 has reached out to DEEP for more details on the annual wild turkey brood survey.

Leah Myers is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at lmyers@fox61.com

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