Wanted: Your Washington Turkey, Game Bird Brood Observations


Do you want to be a biologist? Washington residents have an excellent opportunity to contribute to the management of Washington’s game bird populations by helping the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife with brood surveys this July and August. Outdoor enthusiasts’ observations of wild turkeys and upland birds provide valuable data that helps monitor population growth and informs conservation efforts.


A brood is a group of wild turkeys or upland birds with at least one adult hen with young (poults). Brood surveys are important because they provide information about wild turkey productivity and other game bird populations. Productivity is a key criterion for understanding how well a population is doing. During the summer, biologists survey broods to guide management decisions.

“It’s ambitious to try to get enough observations of each of these species for the brood surveys to be effective as a monitoring tool,” said Sarah Garrison, small game specialist for the WDFW. “People are still learning about this survey opportunity, only in its third year, and we’re working hard to get the word out so more hunters, bird watchers, and others will participate and share their observations.”

By reporting your observations of wild turkeys and upland birds, including details about the number of adults and young, you help biologists and decision makers at WDFW by providing a snapshot of the breeding success and survival rates of these species.

“This survey will help in keeping the wild turkey sustainable in the state of Washington,” said Russ McDonald, Washington NWTF State Chapter president. “This will also help in passing down the hunting heritage to future generations.”

How You Can Participate

The process is simple and relies on incidental observations, meaning you can report any wild turkeys or upland birds you see during your daily activities. Here’s how you can get involved:

  1. Observe: During July and August, keep an eye out for wild turkeys and upland birds. Look for groups of birds, noting the presence of chicks or poults with adult hens.
  2. Report: Record your sightings, including the number of adult birds and young. If you’re unsure about the exact identification, it’s okay to report them as ‘unknown.’
  3. Submit: Follow the link provided by WDFW to report your observations. Your contributions are valuable, regardless of the number of sightings you report.
  4. Share: Participate in the photo contest by submitting your wildlife photos. Winning entries will be featured in next year’s Game Bird and Small Game Hunting Pamphlet. Watch for more details on the WDFW’s Facebook page.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife follows a protocol developed by the National Wild Turkey Technical Committee for turkey surveys and has expanded it to include other upland birds. This standardized method ensures the data collected is consistent and reliable, aiding in effective management decisions.

“Participation in these surveys supports the broader effort to manage and conserve America’s number one game bird and other upland species,” said Krista Modlin, NWTF district biologist for Washington.  “These contributions help ensure that future generations can enjoy these natural resources and participate in our hunting heritage. That’s why we wanted to get the word out to our passionate membership.”

For more information, visit Wild turkey and upland bird survey for broods and distribution | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife