Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wild Turkeys

We have a very healthy Wild Turkey population in our area. The Toms have pretty much stopped displaying, and are now visiting the yard to eat corn. It’s amazing that something this big and brightly colored can be so hard to see in the woods.

Here’s a look at the beard and spurs. The beard grows continuously throughout the male bird’s life, but is limited in total length by being constantly trimmed by the turkey’s toenails as it feeds and scratches for food.

I’ve seen several hens trailing broods of youngsters. Normally the hens don’t come into the yard looking for corn when the young are this small. They spend most of their time wandering the fields, looking for the protein rich insects the young require for healthy growth. I’ve seen three different broods in the yard during the past few days. This youngster isn’t very old, but its wings are already developed enough to carry it high into the trees. Young turkeys can usually use flight as an escape mechanism around one week of age.

The hen decides it’s time to leave, you can see her tail moving out to the right, but the kids aren’t paying attention. To tell the truth, she slipped away so neatly, I didn’t even know where she got to. I know I wasn’t detected, so I wasn’t the reason for her disappearance. The hen only had two young with her when she came over to eat corn, although I saw several more of the same size scattered around the yard.

Now the search is on to find Mama. First thing to do is to look around to see if you really have been abandoned.

If you don’t see your parent, you start yelling.

Next step is to bunch up for security.

If Mother doesn’t come to you, you go in search of Mama. I never did see the hen return. These two wandered around the yard for a while, then went off into the field. I saw another youngster this size leave with four young males. That’ll be an interesting development if the five stay together. Four Men and A Baby.

I kept finding small turkeys around the yard most of the day. This one isn’t more than a day or two old. His camouflage doesn’t do much good in a green lawn. I wonder why so many youngsters, from at least two different broods, were left on their own like this. Does this sort of behavior occur out in the fields and woods where we don’t notice it?

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