Sunday, October 16, 2011
Meet some of the neighbors
These guys -- and they are guys -- refused to stand still and pose for their picture so I'm afraid it's not as sharp as I'd like, but you can nevertheless see that they are quite dignified. They are also not idiotic, unlike their evolutionarily degraded domestic cousins. If they were, there would not be so damn many of them.
This summer there was a flock of two hens and their chicks who went everywhere together. They seemed to like to hang out near the road, so I'd see them often. One of the odd things about turkeys is that they are so socially fluid. Sometimes you'll see a solitary individual; sometimes two or three together, as here; sometimes immense flocks of dozens of mixed gender. But the solo sightings are rare, they generally like to hang out together, even if they're just roosting. By the way, also most unlike the degenerate versions that end up on your Thanksgiving table, they fly quite well, although they seldom bother.
Being a turkey is not so easy, however. I got home a couple of weeks ago to find turkey feather scattered all over my front yard, including a big beautiful tail feather which now sits in a ceramic bud vase in my living room. Evidently some critter had fancied its previous owner for lunch. Maybe a bobcat? I doubt a coyote could catch one but I could be wrong. Turkeys are bigger than hawks, but perhaps a hawk would strike one anyway. I don't know if this one got away but in the spring, I found remains -- just one wing -- in the woods. They're also pretty easy game for a human with a shotgun, which you'll often see on the edges of cleared fields in late autumn, hoping for a nice big dinner.
The main point of this post is that when I was a boy in southern Connecticut, they were nearly gone. I never saw one. They have come back in such profusion in an extraordinarily short time, just 30 or 40 years. The same goes for much of our wildlife. Bears are showing up farther east and farther south all the time. People are seeing bobcats around here which is wholly new. Fishers, beavers, all sorts of critters are more and more common.
This actually is all about humans and how they organize, and particularly how they fuel, their civilization. More about this later.