Spring is on its way…

A couple of days ago, I was standing in my bedroom, looking out toward the woods. Suddenly, I saw a strange bluish, head looking out from the shrubs. This alien looking creature then stepped forward, revealing itself to be a wild turkey. It was a tom with a beard about 10 inches long. I got excited. Then another followed, and another, and another. My excitement grew. Six large toms eventually sauntered out of the woods and into the field.

Stepping out to the patio and opening a window, I made a couple of lame attempts to call to them in turkey language. Alas, I am not fluent. They stopped moving, but didn’t even look at me. On the third try, they did look at me, but never called back.

In any event, the subject of this post is Spring. I was told by a friend, who was forced to listen to this whole episode, since I was on the phone with him when the turkeys appeared, that the large mixed-gender winter flocks start to break down into single-sex groups when spring is near.

So, groundhogs are out. Turkeys are in. Spring, here we come!


The Stalking of the Wild Turkeys

Sorry, this image was lost in the transition from blogger to WordPress.I stumbled upon this small flock of Wild Turkeys yesterday. While I did stalk to within 8 feet or so without alarming them too badly, I have to admit that the turkeys actually snuck up on me initially. There were two hens with four poults walking toward me from the woods through a small long-grass meadow I let grow up at the back of my yard. They say curiosity killed the cat.

In this case, the turkeys were decidedly feline in nature. Apparently, they were out for a family picnic and were interested in the behavior of suburban humans. They were intently staring at me and moving toward me cautiously. I saw first one hen, then the other. I could tell the turkeys were interested in what they were seeing. All I could see was the goofy looking heads hovering above the tops of ryegrass and bluegrass. I pretended to ignore them until they were within about 20 feet.

I decided I had to get a photograph. Problem was, I didn’t have my camera. I also was not sure how long the birds would stick around if I quit what I was doing and returned to the house to dig out the camera. After a few minutes, I could resist the urge no longer. I had to risk disturbing the elusive and skittish turkeys.

While I mean no disrespect to turkey hunters, who spend days in the woods patterning turkeys, refining their calls, and perfecting their stalking skills in an attempt to get close enough to take a shot at these secretive birds with bow or shotgun, these birds were not the smartest, wariest of prey. When I shut the lawnmower off and walked to the house, the turkeys finally decided there might be something out of place here. They slowly started makign their way toward the woods.

Three minutes later, I returned with my camera. The birds never gave me a second look. They were pecking at Sorry, this image was lost in the transition from blogger to WordPress.insects and seedheads of grasses as I stalked toward them cautiously. As I moved to within about 15 feet, they started to retreat in an orderly manner. The young followed the hens and poked at interesting plants and insects with their beaks as they leisurely withdrew into the edge of the forest. I snapped a few quick and blurry photos as I took larger steps to close the gap. At the edge of the woods I decided to let them live their lives in peace so that I could finish mowing and spend some time with the kids. As I started the mower up once more, the turkeys poked their blue heads out of the forest edge and came back up the hill to watch for a bit longer.