Aerial surveys have been used to estimate abundance for several wild bird species but its application for wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) populations has been limited. We surveyed Rio Grande wild turkey (M. gallopavo intermedia) populations during March 2006 using an R44 helicopter. We used flocks with radio-tagged birds to estimate flock detectability. We also used simulations to evaluate accuracy and precision and examine power to detect trends in population change. We observed that wild turkey flock detectability was 94.7% (74.0-99.9%; 95% CI). Our simulations suggested helicopter surveys would underestimate abundance by about 5.6% (4.6% CV). Surveying 980 to 1,960 km2 (requiring 27 to 55 h of flight time) can provide sufficient power (≥;0.80) to detect a 10 to 25% change in abundance over a 4- to 5-year period.
- Population trend