Spring Wildlife Sightings
Recently four female deer walked through our yard and into the woods. It was nice to see them after the winter. I also have been seeing a group of about fifteen wild turkeys. Even when it was snowing, they were there walking through the snow. Also, there was a male wild turkey in the woods that was making the gobble, gobble noise at dawn and dusk, like a rooster. I think that it was doing this to mark its territory. We have recently gotten several inches of snow, so it does not quite look like spring yet.
For the past couple of months, we have been having a flock of Wild Turkeys in the area that includes females, males, and some younger turkeys. It is a large flock, probably about twenty turkeys in all. Usually the flock around here consists of female turkeys and their young, so it was a surprise to see so many males. The males are about twice as large as the females, and they fan their rear feathers some, so it is easy to tell which ones they are. The turkeys spend a lot of time in the woods looking for things to eat under the leaves (probably insects and larvae). Even if you can’t see them, you can tell they are there, because they make scratching and clucking noises. They are very peaceful birds, and very enjoyable to watch.
Wild Turkeys crossing the road
Wild Turkeys Crossing the Road
This is a photo I took last year of a flock of Wild Turkeys crossing the road in Michigan. It is not the clearest of photos because I took it through the windshield, and the turkeys were moving at the time. Often turkeys just cross the road whenever they want to, so people have to slow down and wait. It is important to always look to make sure that more turkeys are not waiting to cross, because they are a flock and want to stay together.
Wild Turkeys are large birds that live in flocks and can often be seen foraging by the roadside. This fall I saw a flock of up to twenty female turkeys, but I haven’t been seeing them much recently, now that there is snow on the ground. They are very peaceful birds, and like to root around under dead leaves. They are very shy around humans, running off at the slightest disturbance. Usually they get along, but occasionally I have seen them squawk and flap their wings at each other. Usually they walk single file through the woods, with one of the turkeys leading, and one bringing up the end. There will always be a couple of turkeys on the lookout while the others eat. I do not usually see the males, but they are larger and have more fluffy feathers and a large tail that they display. Hens (female turkeys) make a clucking sound that sounds a bit like a chicken. The males (called toms), make a gobbling sound that can be heard at quite a distance. Young turkeys are called poults. Once I heard a male wild turkey in the woods gobbling at dawn and dusk, almost like a rooster.
Interesting facts about Wild Turkeys:
The Wild Turkey almost became our national bird, but lost by one vote to the Bald Eagle (Benjamin Franklin called them “birds of courage”).
They have very good eyesight and have a field of vision that starts at 270 degrees.
They can run at speeds of up to 25 mph, and fly at speeds of up to 55mph.
They can recognize and use more than thirty unique vocal sounds.
They can live longer than ten years in the wild.
They roost in trees at night, and their dark feathers help them hide from predators.
Farm Sanctuary Quarterly Newsletter
Stan Tekiela, Birds of Michigan (Cambridge,MN: Adventure Publications, 2004) pages 161-162.
Filed under birds, nature