Conservation Corner

Regional Biologist Blog

NWTF to Assist with Brood Survey

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

With the 2011 Spring Turkey Season behind us, we biologists turn our thoughts to the results of all that gobbling, strutting, spitting and drumming that occurred over the last few months. It is time to be on the lookout for poults and monitor turkey breeding success. Last December, I blogged about how IDNR’s annual brood survey works and the important information it provides us. This year, IDNR Turkey Project Leader, Paul Brewer, has enlisted the help of NWTF chapters to improve reliability of the survey.

Back when turkey restoration was new and exciting, it was not difficult to find willing volunteers to fill out brood survey cards during each summer to help IDNR biologists monitor annual recruitment. In fact, many of the participants were the owners/managers of the properties where the releases took place. With restoration efforts complete and turkeys distributed throughout most of the available habitat in the state, reporting rates have declined as people have either lost interest or simply are no longer able to participate. However, because turkeys are not a long-lived species, annual recruitment is still an important parameter to monitor in an established population. Anyone who has hunted Missouri over the last 10 years has seen this first hand. Turkeys, like most game birds, have a high reproductive capacity given good weather and quality habitat. We can’t do anything about the weather, but we can create and enhance habitat. That is why the Illinois strategic plan of NWTF’s North American Wild Turkey Management Plan ( prioritizes habitat projects that create and enhance nesting and brood habitat. The NAWTMP focuses NWTF Super Fund and matching partner dollars on these clearly defined priorities.

Back to the survey…NWTF chapter presidents will be receiving a packet of brood survey cards to distribute among their local members who have the time and interest to record their turkey brood observations. Just as in previous years, the survey cards will also go out to biologists, CPO’s, rural mail carriers, SWCD personnel, U.S. Forest Service personnel, etc. The idea of involving NWTF chapters is to increase the sample size and distribution (we have over 100 chapters throughout the state) of observations, therefore increasing the reliability of the results. Brood surveys are one of several tools we use to monitor turkey populations. Let’s hope for some good news when the data are compiled and reported this fall!

To read Kent's archived biologist blog, please click here