Sunday, July 31, 2011

Turkey Families

I’m seeing a lot of young turkey families right now. The excessive spring rains must have either delayed nesting or caused early nest to fail, because the young are usually much larger by this time of year. These two hens are still maintaining separate family units. By the end of July I should be seeing merged flocks of larger young birds.

These little guys may be young, but they are already capable fliers. It only takes 8 to 10 days from hatching for a turkey to be able to fly. As soon as they can fly, the hen takes her brood into the trees at night to roost.

It surprises me that these turkey families can spend as much as an hour wandering around the lawn without attracting any hawks. We have a resident Cooper’s Hawk pair that make quick work of any unwary Mourning Dove or Blue Jay in the yard. It seems to me that these little turkeys would make an ideal meal. Maybe I think that just because I would prefer to eat turkey.

It may appear that the hen is conducting lessons in proper grooming, but this is not the case. Grooming is an instinctual behavior that the young would learn even if raised apart from any adults. From the hen, the young will learn the boundaries of the territory they will inhabit. They also learn the most likely places to search for the food they’ll need to survive.

The grooming session makes it appear that a troupe of contortionists has taken up residence in the yard. Or it could be the turkey equivalent of yoga. These excursions into the yard usually take place in the early morning. The yard may be one of the few open places that the young turkeys can go to dry the morning dew out of their feathers. When they get a little bit older, the morning visits will stop.


  1. Great catch. Love the turkey families. For some strange reason Scrooge comes to mind when I see turkeys in the field. "Oh, look! It's Christmas dinner!"

  2. Wonderful! We're fortunate to see adults in the yard on rare occasions. I hadn't seen babies before. Too cute!

  3. Thanks, Lois. The little ones ought to be just the right size by Christmas.

    Hi, Jain. It would be an odd day here if I didn't see a couple of turkeys strolling through the yard.