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Citizen scientists can help survey wild turkey, ruffed grouse this summer

A wild turkey stands in grass.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Wild turkeys are found in all of Ohio's counties, according to the Ohio Department Of Natural Resources.

A survey of Ohio’s wild turkeys and ruffed grouses is underway. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is doing its annual population indexing this summer, after many baby birds have been born.

“These young chicks and poults follow their mothers around, and in the months of July and August, they're very visible,” said Mike Reynolds, executive administrator of wildlife management and research for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

ODNR is asking people for help in its monitoring of the turkeys and ruffed grouse. The observations of citizen scientists, who can be anyone, give the agency more data.

“We're definitely not counting all these birds that are out there,” Reynolds said. “They're hard to see. They live in thick and gnarly places in the summer. So, we hope people see them in their yards, or crossing roads, or, perhaps, at a state park or a wildlife area.”

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Ruffed grouses live in southern and eastern Ohio. Reynolds describes them as chicken-sized and primarily found in the forest.

Wild turkeys can be identified by their red, white and blue heads.

Population data helps set turkey hunting regulations, Reynolds said. Recorded sightings also let scientists better understand how weather, disease and changing habitats impact Ohio’s birds.

Wild turkey and ruffed grouse sightings can be recorded online through the ODNR’s Wildlife Reporting System, or through the HuntFish OH mobile app, throughout July and August. People should note as many details as possible, including the number of adult and young birds, county and date of the sighting.

Isabel joined WVXU in 2024 to cover the environment.