Sunday, May 8, 2011


We see wild turkeys quite regularly as we drive around the landscape of the Beaver Valley region, all year round. They clean up the soybean fields in the fall; they walk steadily in single file out of the woods and across the roads in winter; and they gather in small flocks in the fields in spring. I've been wanting to get a picture of these incredible birds, so imagine my surprise when I looked out the window just 2 or 3 weeks ago and saw several turkeys! Just 30 feet away, walking slowly into our backyard!

The female hens led the way, picking at the grass as they walked. Wild turkeys are huge birds, and although they do fly quite well for short distances, I find myself wondering how they actually get off the ground. I know from stories I hear though that when a wild turkey bursts out of the undergrowth beside you and you aren't expecting it, it's a noisy burst of wings!

These turkeys worked their way slowly across the yard, a typical small flock of 5 hens and one tom; the hens led the way toward the further fencerow and the tom followed, stopping occasionally to fluff out its tail and look ferocious. It's 'beard', made of modified feathers, also shows up in this picture.

Wild turkeys have been one of the wildlife management success stories, perhaps even too successful, as they eat grain on farm fields. They were almost extirpated from Ontario, and re-introduced over ten years ago. The re-introduction has been so successful that there is now both a spring and a fall hunting season for turkeys.

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