Jim Coffey, a forest wildlife researcher for the DNR, says volunteers are vital to the summer survey. “We ask all Iowa citizens who are willing to participate, as they’re out and about enjoying the wildlife this summer, if they see turkeys, count what they see, the sex and the size,” Coffey says. “Use our website to email that into us and we can count those birds across the state.”
The state is sending out cards to some 4,000 Iowans asking them to help count wild turkeys, but the eyes and ears of thousands more Iowans are needed.
“This is our one and only way of really looking at production for the year,” Coffey says. “Turkey numbers could fluctuate quite a bit from year to year and this gives us an idea of how the turkeys nested and the success they had this spring.” It’s usually pretty easy to tell an adult male turkey from a female, he says, and volunteer spotters should also take note of the number of poults or juvenile turkeys.
“We’re looking for a few things, the first is size,” Coffey says. “The males are typically bigger and they tend to be black in color and they’ll have a beard. The females tend to be a drabber color or lighter brown, and they’ll be the ones that should have the poults with them.” The survey is done every year during July and August as that’s when it’s easiest to distinguish the adults from the young. So far, Coffey says he’s encouraged.
“This seems to be a pretty good year and 2014 was a good year as well,” Coffey says. “We’ve had reports already of broods in the size of four and five poults per female which indicates we had good nest success, good survival, and that’s typical of drier, warmer springs like we had.” You can find the simple survey under the “Turkey” tab on the DNR website.