A Few of My Favorite Birds (33 ): Turkeys—and not Just at Thanksgiving!

Turkey. Wild 4.29.13Turkeys are the largest game bird in North America and their existence helped the pilgrims survive their first year in America, which is doubtless how they ended up as the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving dinners yesterday. Turkeys in October 2015As turkeys haven’t been globe trotters, I don’t know how many people on other continents like turkey, but my son Joel became the turkey donor for his house, because even though many of his fellow graduate students are Asian and didn’t  actually want to roast a turkey…they all wanted to eat some turkey! 🙂  Turkeys grazing in our fieldSo, turkeys are popular birds. Turkeys not only the biggest of our game birds (2-4 ft. in length and up to 50 pounds for domesticated turkeys), many people think they’re the best! There are now about 200 million raised every year for food in the U.S. and another 7 million running wild throughout North America. Turkeys 21 of them! 9-15            We have a flock of 21 (last count) that roam our woods and fields. Turkeys in Field I was surprised to learn that wild turkeys actually prefer woodland areas and are especially fond of acorns but are omnivorous, eating fruits, seeds and nuts of various varieties, insects, and even salamanders!Nest of Wild Turkey eggsOne hen laid her nest of 13 tan-speckled eggs right up against the sunny, southern wall of our home hidden behind a thick patch of day lilies this summer. Turkey eggs                                                      (They can lay 4-18 eggs.) Autumn Flock of Turkeys This would have been an ideal spot had it not been for an influx of 4 curious grand sons and 4 curious coon kits during the month it would have taken to properly incubate them. Sigh.Flock of wild turkeys                                                 Still, a flock of 21 isn’t bad. Turkey Male showing off copy        The males are aloof parents…mostly interested in strutting and breeding.Male turkey displaying                                 (I’ll refrain from any snide comments.)

Mother Turkey with Poults But, the hens make excellent mothers, fiercely protecting their young poults during the first two weeks before they can fly. Hen Turkey with PoultsHowever, once the poults can fly, the entire flock roosts relatively high up
in trees during the night. Turkey Tracks+ 3.28.13                   Hens watch over their young even through the first winter, Wild Turkeys 8.25.13 and our flock seems to stick together year round,
roaming freely all over our yard, driveway, lane, woods, and fields. turkeys-in-our-driveway                    I think they think they own the place…and maybe they do.Turkey on waterfront 2015 copyGiven the specialness and succulence of turkeys, you may wonder why
“You turkey!” is considered an insult. I addressed that issue some years ago (https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2009/03/28/you-turkey/ ), Wild Turkeys   but since that time I’ve also learned something from a professional hunter that’s made me rethink my compliance with the present P.C. turkey slurs. Wild TurkeyTurkeys aren’t just big; they’re fast, running up to 25 mph and flying up to 55. Furthermore, they don’t fly in a straight line,
making them extremely challenging for game hunters.Turkey. Wild by fenceSo, even if some birds would rather try to bust their brains
through a fence than fly over it, they’re worthy of respect
…and I think that holds true for all God’s creatures.  Turkeys on our lawn 10.15            We all have some weaknesses, but we all need and deserve respect. Turkeys+20 pix 9.2.15     So, sorry, big birds. You won’t be hearing anymore turkey slurs from me.    🙂 Turkeys in yard 9.2.15“Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any:
he is mighty in strength and wisdom” (Job 36:5).

 

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