Count Turkeys In August

Wild turkey with juveniles (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Wild turkey with juveniles (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Silent songbirds and hot weather make birding less interesting in August.  Here’s a project to get you going in Pennsylvania:  It’s time to count wild turkeys.

Every August the Pennsylvania Game Commission conducts a wild turkey survey to determine breeding success.  Everyone from biologists to birders can help.  Two factors add interest to the count:

  1. Juvenile turkeys, called poults, are only half grown so you can tell (and count) the difference between adults and this year’s young.
  2. You’ll also get practice identifying adult males versus females. (You can ignore the adult/juvenile tail-clue because juveniles are just plain small in August.)
How to sex and age wild turkeys by sight (screenshot of PGC poster)
How to sex and age wild turkeys by sight (screenshot of PGC poster)


The guidelines for the survey are pretty simple:

  • Record turkey sightings during the month of August.
  • Count “big birds” (adults) and “little birds” (poults).
  • Record the sex of all adults.  Here’s the full size poster that describes the difference between males and females.
  • For adult females, separate the count “with young” and “without.”
  • Note where you see the birds. When you submit your observations (online here or download the app), click on the embedded map and the form will automatically fill in the location details.
  • Submit a separate report for each flock of turkeys observed, including those without poults, and lone turkeys.
  • Try NOT to report the SAME flock MULTIPLE times. Duplicate flocks bias the results.

Download the app to use in the field or click here for the Turkey Survey form.


Thanks to Mary Ann Pike for passing along this news.


(photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the image to see the original)

p.s. Did you know you can sex turkeys by the shape of their droppings?  Learn more at PGC’s Turkey Biology FAQ page.

2 thoughts on “Count Turkeys In August

  1. I saw an owl! The first one I’ve ever seen in my life, although when I was a child I heard a screech owl once. I’m sure it was an owl. It had an unmistakeable owly shape, perched on my dead tree and silhouetted against the sky at dusk.

    My husband wants to know why we never hear owls, located near woodlands as we are. They are the night-shift raptors. Were they extirpated along with the daytime hunterss? Is there any attempt to bring them back?

  2. Submitted my count to PGC. Have had turkeys in area in the past, but not as much as this year with babies and some adults without them.

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