Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Turkeys

These guys are having corn for their Thanksgiving feast. They seem unconcerned that Wild Turkey would be a welcome addition to most people’s meal on this holiday.

The males have joined together to form their winter flocks. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen this many long beards traveling together.

Those beards would get even longer if they weren’t constantly trimmed back by foraging turkey feet.

Following the corn, comes the green salad and some feather fluffing. Some light showers have revived the lawn grass and the turkeys nibble the fresh blades.

They all appear plump and healthy. Probably the result of all of the cracked corn they’ve consumed over the summer.

This bird seems to be showing off its fine body.

Then it remembers what day it is and flees the premises. Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. We have a couple of their distant relatives here preparing to meet some of our relatives. ;)

    Great images. Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Hi Steve...I don't think I can beat out Lois's comment that is great!!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!!

  3. Hi Steve :)

    In recent years, here in Ontario, at a place called Turkey Point (north shore of Lake Erie), we either reintroduced wild turkeys back into the savannah/prairie there, or augmented a critically low population (I can't remember). and now? a local eco-restorationist there calls them "a subsidized predator", and they're killing species-at-risk salamanders and a skink. a friend of mine who's a field naturalist there goes out hunting them every spring now. he told me that now "it's you're obligation as a steward to bag them."

    ah, always the pathetic difference between intent and result eh? i have to laugh or else i'd cry. :)

  4. Hi, Lois. I hope you and your family had a great day. We enjoyed watching the rain today. We’ve had enough now that the well level is beginning to rise. My daughter was excited because now she doesn’t have to make a choice between taking a shower or washing her clothes.

    Hi, grammie g. I hope everything went well for you today. I imagine your family all come over and make you relax while they prepare a big meal and after that they clean up so there’s no mess for you.

    Hi, Native Plant Girl. When Wild Turkeys were reintroduced into Ohio, it was thought that they would only survive in areas that were over 90% wooded. It fooled everyone when the turkeys adapted to a fragmented landscape and their populations exploded. I’ve seen places in the state where the turkeys have destroyed the leaf litter on steep hillsides, resulting in severe erosion in the woodlands. Around here, the turkeys and deer have greatly reduced the numbers of woodland wildflowers. Of course, the reintroduction did meet the goal of increasing the numbers of huntable wildlife species in Ohio.

  5. Steve, hi. ouch. didn't know about the leave litter and erosion. thanks.

    weird coincidence: i just came across this post about wild turkey introduction from the Aliens-L listserve from 2 years ago. he's in California but i wonder if some of his findings apply here (e.g. acorn removal).

    "----- Original Message -----
    From: Daniel Gluesenkamp
    Sent: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 5:48 PM
    Subject: RE: [Aliens-L] introductions of North American turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo)


    I’ve completed an experiment examining the ecological impacts of introduced turkeys at our Sonoma Valley preserve. Turkeys are very abundant at this site, as they are throughout much of California, and natural resource managers in the area are concerned about impacts to native systems. While turkeys are native to much of the United States, they were absent from California until the late 1800s and very scarce until the 1990s.

    My study has shown that turkeys increase soil disturbance approximately 10X as compared to sites from which turkeys are excluded. Presence of turkeys increases Quercus acorn removal rate 4X, and Umbellularia nut removal rate 3X. It appears that oak seedlings are more abundant in plots from which turkeys have been excluded.

    The most dramatic results were from pitfall trap sampling of ground dwelling invertebrates. Turkeys reduced overall number of ground dwelling invertebrates significantly. The effect of turkeys varied among invertebrate guilds, with urban cores and omnivores significantly declining in abundance and predators increasing slightly.
    Daniel Gluesenkamp, Ph.D.
    Director, Habitat Protection and Restoration
    Audubon Canyon Ranch
    415-939-6681 mobile"

  6. Thanks, Native Plant Girl. There are probably a lot of similarities between study results in California and what you would find here. Although turkeys were introduced back into their historic range, the ecosystems within that range were drastically changed from what was there prior to the turkey decline. One of the big changes in the eastern United States was the loss of the American Chestnut and its annual bounty of nuts. The patterns displayed by foraging turkeys would have been radically different then, as would have been the effects on plant and animal populations. It’s hard to predict the effects of an expanding turkey population when our existing ecosystems have never been subjected to that kind of pressure.