nesting hens

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eddie234
 
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nesting hens

Postby eddie234 » May 31st, 2009, 10:52 am

do hens nest close to their living area? or do they stray off to a area they may never have been before?

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Everyday Hunter
 
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RE: nesting hens

Postby Everyday Hunter » May 31st, 2009, 12:05 pm

Good question. Let's open this up to a broader discussion on nesting location.

Here's another...
How do hens choose their nesting area? They might be under logs, in downed treetops, against the base of a tree, out in an open field, or somewhere else. What makes a hen decide where to put her nest?

Is there some rhyme or reason for the spot she chooses? Or does she just think, "I reckon I'll lay some eggs right about here"?

Does anyone know any scientific literature on the subject of nesting locations?

Steve
When [url="http://www.EverydayHunter.com"]"The Everyday Hunter"[/url] isn't hunting, he's thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting.

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mark hay
 
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RE: nesting hens

Postby mark hay » May 31st, 2009, 12:39 pm

My thoughts are purely speculation on this subject . I have read very little about it , and that was in our T&TH mag.

But taking into consideration that like just about any other wild animal or bird , they KNOW their home turf , and use their God given instincts to pick a spot that will most likely allow them to escape danger as well as be hidden from predators . But, then on the other hand as I have stated many times on turkeys , there are the generallities and exceptions . For instance , gobblers generally roost in trees , but for the exception of those that have been observed roosting on the ground for some reason.
I flushed a hen one spring , late in the season , and shortly after noon . I had been by the very same spot 2 hours earlier without a flush . On my return trip she came right out from under a russian olive bush at the edge of a small clearing . The ground cover was like that of a very rich and fertile hayfeild before it is cut for baling . Thick and tall in comparison to a hens height and their ablity to get through that stuff . I am not sure if there was actually a nest there . I didn't want to risk her abandoning the nest any more than I already had so I didn't probe around . Oh yeah ! It scared me good when she flushed about 6 feet to my right and flew right in front of me .
I always stop and watch hens this time of year to try to catch a peek of their young . Also I'll make an entry in my turkey journal as to the location and if there were actually some poults with the hen.
Yesterday as I returned from the public land I saw one lone hen without poults . My guess is she is still nesting . On up the road I spot 3 hens feeding together and assume they have lost their poults and have teamed up for the summer months .

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Gobblerman
 
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RE: nesting hens

Postby Gobblerman » May 31st, 2009, 4:18 pm

Findings in a study done about 25 years ago in Merriams habitat in the mountains of southern NM showed that our hens preferred to nest on slopes rather than flat areas, nested at the base of a tree or other protection like a stump, and directly under overhanging vegetation, and preferred areas with good cover in the form of slash, shrubs, downed trees, or protective ground contour effects.  The study was done in a mixed-conifer forest type typified by moderate to thick stands of large conifer trees of various types (pine, fir, spruce), aspen, oak, and a variety of shrub and grass species.  
 
I suspect Mark's comment about having good cover in the vicinity of the nest is probably right on for just about all subspecies.  Also, the availability of good brood-rearing habitat close by, including surface water, is probably a critical factor.  Good escape cover for broods during that critical two-week period when they are confined to the ground is, no doubt, a very important factor, as well.
 
Jim

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Fan Club
 
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RE: nesting hens

Postby Fan Club » June 1st, 2009, 12:12 pm

> hens preferred to nest on slopes rather than flat areas, nested at the base of a tree or other protection like a stump, and directly under overhanging vegetation, and preferred areas with good cover in the form of slash, shrubs, downed trees, or protective ground contour effects.<
 
Evidently the criteria is much the same across the country. On May 24 th my grandson and I were cutting through a stand of scattered pines after hunting. A hen exploded off her nest less than ten feet in front of us. It was at the base of a scotch pine, on a slight slope with overhanging cover and abundant ground cover. We were close enough to see into the nest before retracing our steps and backing out...the nest contained 19 eggs!
 
I've seen perhaps half a dozen nests in my years of hunting and the eggs almost always number in the 12-14 range predicted by biologists. I gotta believe 19 is at the upper end of feasibilty. That's a lot of mouths to feed and kids to watch if they all hatch. Most of the broods I see in summer are four or five poults per hen which would also bear out biologists prediction of 65-70% predation loss.
"The joy of living is his, who has the heart to demand it." Teddy Roosevelt

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Gobblerman
 
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RE: nesting hens

Postby Gobblerman » June 1st, 2009, 1:06 pm

19 eggs!  Wow, that's a bunch!  In the New Mexico study, the clutch sizes ranged from 6 to 12, with twelve being the most found in any nest!  I will have to look through the data I have, but if I remember correctly the average annual survival rate was 1.2 poults per nesting hen.  That ain't many!
 
Jim

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Everyday Hunter
 
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RE: nesting hens

Postby Everyday Hunter » June 1st, 2009, 5:15 pm

ORIGINAL: Gobblerman

I will have to look through the data I have, but if I remember correctly the average annual survival rate was 1.2 poults per nesting hen.  That ain't many!

Jim

I'm not sure I understand that figure. To mean anything wouldn't it have to be tied to a particular age or time of year. Is it a 1-year survival rate. Is it after the fall hunting season?  What would it take to have a stable population?

Steve
When [url="http://www.EverydayHunter.com"]"The Everyday Hunter"[/url] isn't hunting, he's thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting.

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Gobblerman
 
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RE: nesting hens

Postby Gobblerman » June 2nd, 2009, 3:38 am

I went back to the study information to see if I could find the actual data rather than what I could recall from my admittedly aging memory.  Unfortunately, I could not locate the info on this.  I will have to do some more research. 
 
However, the "1.2 poults per nesting hen" number I pulled from memory is the one-year survival rate I am pretty sure.  One thing that might be of interest that I did notice while reviewing the info I had, is that in one of the years of the study, the researchers had no young-of-the-year survive to be one year old.  However, this data was obtained from a sample size of only four successful nesting hens, so I'm not sure how much stock can be put in the conclusions that can be reached from that. 
 
I will say from personal experience and observation, having spent a lot of time in the study area over the past forty years, that the turkey population, and apparently the poult survival rate, seems to have increased dramatically in the last ten years or so. 
 
Jim
 
 


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