Saturday, October 27, 2018

The National Bird

A big flock of turkeys just went through my yard, apparently finding plenty to eat. They poke their beaks into the ground finding grubs and seeds and who knows what. There were maybe 16 of them.

An oddity about turkeys is that they seem to have largely random flocking habits. You'll see them all alone, in pairs, in groups of any size up to enormous uncountable congregations. In the summer of course you will see a hen with her chicks. Sometimes two hens will go about in pairs with their broods. According to the Wild Turkey Federation (yes, it exists) they have actually formed stable single-sex flocks by this time of year, but evidently the members don't always hang out together. The flock that went by my house was female.

In mating season, in the spring, they form huge mixed sex aggregations where the males strut and display. It's sort of like a singles bar. This once happened in my yard and it was quite a spectacle. The Wild Turkey Federation doesn't actually mention this but I can tell you that it happens. Unlike their deformed domesticated brethren wild turkeys can fly pretty well, but they don't do it much. They will actually climb trees rather than fly up into them. I think they fly only to escape predation. Since they feed on the ground anyway, they might as well save energy and stay there.

But they do get taken by surprise sometimes. Once in a while I'll find a bunch of feathers, and once I even found remains. We have foxes, bobcats and coyotes, and I would imagine some feral cats although I haven't seen any. Of course human hunt them as well. Still, the turkeys don't act as if they are at all worried.

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