First Turkey Info, Then Turkey Funnies
The wild turkey is a ground dwelling bird that is often seen at the farm, like those at the farm above. But it is not easy to get close enough to photograph them. They are very wary of hunters, even ones with a camera.
A male gobbles in spring time to attract a mate, fanning out his tail, strutting and dragging his wing tips on the ground. The male gobble is so loud, it has been reported to be heard a mile away. Males will look for multiple mates. Here, the LA Times Sports image has multiple males looking at one female. She looks to be in some trouble, that or she gets to pick to best one. Not sure. I really know nothing about turkey courtship. Turkey roasting and basting, yes.
The female will lay between 8 and 15 eggs, in a shallow depression for the nest, which is hidden by brush, vines or twigs. I have seen them in the field. They are buff colored eggs.
Incubated for maybe 25 to 30 days, the young poults are down covered little cuties who can start feeding themselves shortly after birth. Male poults stay with mom through fall and the females until spring. I have seen the babies with mom in the field just like this really good image from here. See the bigger image and others by Harold Stiver by clicking the link I provided above.
If I had my camera, I could have gotten some great shots of momma and her poults. But you all know how that goes.
Why they are at the farm is because there is prime habitat. They prefer mixed conifer and deciduous forest with open fields, orchards and marches. All of this is available at the farm for them. Since they eat nuts, fruits, insects, seeds and even salamanders, the food supply is plentiful at the farm as well. They are ground dwelling and feeding, but they roost in trees at night. I have seen them fly a short ways. It is hard to believe they can get off the ground at all. I have read they can reach short burst of flight at 55 mph; that would be a sight.
The farm had an annual turkey calling competition for kids though adults. If I can get any photos or audio of human gobbles I will post it. It is interesting.
So why post about wild turkeys when table turkeys are so near? Well, I have a funny story about them, one that should have made this one a dinner turkey.
Funny Turkey Story
When at the Buffalo Zoo, I like to go into the petting zoo with all the kids. I like all the animals to come around nudging me for food. I was with my husband one day and he followed me into the petting pen after I attracted the animals.
This one big Tom turkey was following me intently. I thought nothing of it when all of a sudden, he turned and attacked my husband. Pecking at him all the way out of the enclose. Then the Tom came back to my side. Of course, I am laughing my head off.
My husband foolishly entered again. The Tom eyed him and quickly turned and rammed chest first into him, knocking him backwards onto his butt. But now the husband was not near the door, and was getting pecked and clawed lying in the dirt. Clouds of dirt flying in the air with my husband in the middle of the ruckus. The turkey beating his wings, chased him all over the pen, and finally cornering him, still was pecking and clawing away. Kids are screaming and running for the exit. Pygmy goats and donkeys are darting about. All heck broke loose.
The animal keeper comes frantically running to save my husband and calm the upset animals. The keeper said the friendly turkey never reacted this way to anyone before and it was an isolated incident, actually twice, since he did not witness the first chasing out of the pen.
The keeper was so apologetic, and had to close the pen since it was a big dusty mess and isolate the turkey. That is why I had no pictures of the turkey, but here is a swan from that day. Just a note, swans don’t like him either. Now my husband is afraid of and hates turkeys. Can you blame him?