Sunday, November 29, 2009
Here are two turkey (or turkel, as we call them) sightings around my house.
Turkey in the Snow
In December 2007, a big storm dropped a good foot and a half of snow. By late afternoon, the sky was clearing and two tom turkeys (all that chest hair) slogged to the bird feeder. We have several large pines in our yard which shelter the feeder. The snow wasn't as deep there and the turkeys pecked at the seeds.
The next time I looked, only one turkey was left. He turned toward the hill to climb up to the woods, stepping into snow that was up to his belly. He stopped. For several minutes, he struggled and strained against the snow, but couldn't make any progress. The light was fading, and I expected him to return along the path he and his friend had broken.
Instead, Mr. Turkey unfurled his wings (BIG wings) and flew up to a branch. Huge bird that he is, he made quite a sight, perched on that limb. As the night progressed, I looked out several times to check on him, but I couldn't see him in the darkness. I worried about him, even as I told myself turkeys are professional wild animals and can survive outside.
The next morning, I heard "Gobble, gobble, gobble," and sure enough, there he was, still sitting on that tree limb. He flapped his wings and flew down to the ground. A crust had formed on the snow overnight, so he was able to walk away, slipping and sliding and using his wings for balance.
A happy ending.
A Spring Turkey
Last May, as I sat in my front room, I heard clucking outside the open window. I jumped up to see the turkey (seeing a turkey is still a big deal) and sure enough, a hen stood on the front lawn.
She clucked again, and six tiny brown-and-yellow chicks (poults) ran out from under the rhododendron beside the house. From their small size, they must have hatched only a few days earlier.
Mama turkey clucked again and walked around the side of the house, her poults trailing in her wake. A resplendent tom, tail flaring in full courtship regalia, followed. The entire group climbed the hill behind my house and disappeared into the woods. I wonder where mama turkey built her nest. I hoped she used our woods, but I have no idea.
My husband took these two pictures from inside the house. Click on the images to see the poults better.
I never saw the poults again, but I do see the turkeys from time to time. They have no schedule, but they wander from yard to yard, climb the hill behind my house to the woods, and then climb down again, cross the street and head into the woods lower on the hill.
I'm glad we have turkels. And I hope they come around for a good many more years.
Thank you all,