Sunday, March 6, 2011

Turkey Year

It’s not unusual to see Wild Turkeys coming up the trail toward the house on their way to the bird feeding station. In a typical year, the flock will number less than a dozen birds. This year the turkeys number in excess of 70 birds and the line headed for the yard seems never ending.

The attraction is corn, but most of the turkeys won’t take advantage of this food source when there are abundant food items in the woods. The combination of last year’s excessive spring rainfall, late spring freeze and drought plagued summer caused a wide range of plants to fail in their attempts at seed and fruit production. Last fall I noticed the lack of fruit on the shrubs, the empty seed husks on the forbs and grasses and the very poor acorn crop. The influx of turkeys to the feeder was a predictable outcome.

It’s interesting that most of Southern Ohio experienced a massive acorn crop last fall. Many people were curious about why the oaks in my area didn’t follow the majority and produce an enormous acorn crop. In any natural system there is variation. It’s that variation that makes the system healthy and able to survive catastrophic events.

Not all of the turkeys can access the corn at the same time. A large part of the flock spreads out over the lawn while they await their chance at the grain.

The turkeys make a thorough search of the yard and grab anything that’s edible.

The young bluegrass leaves are the main attraction in the lawn. Turkeys spend a lot of time grazing and will eat any green plant material they can find. Their constant scratching of the ground removes thatch from the lawn and makes it easier to find the young grass leaves.

The result of this activity is a yard that is beginning to look like a dirt barn lot. This young male is looking just a little bit guilty about that.

13 comments:

  1. Wow, what great images! I have turkeys on my blog today, but only the two we saw at the side of the road in the Smokies. I've never seen as many as you have pictured all in one spot at the same time. Great image catch!

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  2. Welcome back, Steve. Where have you been? Hibernating?

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  3. I haven't seen a turkey all winter. Actually, I haven't seen YOU all winter! :) Really good to see you back, you've been seriously missed here in Maine.

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  4. Hi Steve...So that's where all the Turkey's have gone to ...I had 2 old strays and that's it!! : }
    If I was a turkey I'd get out of here with all this snow we have had "poor buggers"
    My goodness it nice to have you back ..you have been sorely missed!! : }}

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  5. Great turkey photos! Let me add my voice to everyone saying "welcome back!" and "where have you been???".

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  6. Welcome back!! You were missed. My goodness, look at all those turkeys! I've never seen so many at once. We had 6 the other day, in a(city) neighborhood! ~karen

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  7. Hi Steve! Welcome back...glad to see you back on the Web. I always learn something from your blog. Love the turkeys...

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  8. I won't bother with the standard "welcome back" comment...whoops, I guess I just did.

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  9. Glad to see you back, Steve! Looking forward to what you have to share this season.

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  10. Hi everyone. Thanks for the Welcomes Back. I'll do a post soon that sort of explains how the blog went AWOL.

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  11. Oh, I did a "welcome back" on Sunday but it didn't post here. Missed your posts! So glad to see you back!

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