“Hey! There are a bunch of wild turkeys walking up the driveway,” Eric called from the kitchen Sunday morning as he was making breakfast.
Cool! The turkeys are back! I hadn’t seen any in our woods for a couple of years so I was pretty excited to see some around again. When I went to look, I saw quite a few on the driveway and even more in the woods. The more I looked, the more I saw. There must have been at least 20 turkeys milling around. It was really exciting to see them.
Most of the turkeys were up in the woods scratching around in the dry leaves on the ground just like the large flock I saw in my parent’s woods up in Vermont. I’m sure they were hunting for acorns to eat. In Vermont, it was the beechnuts they were after but in our Virginia woods, acorns make up a lot of their diet – and boy, do we have acorns!
We had a good mast crop last fall with loads of acorns and hickory nuts falling to the ground. It was interesting to watch the turkeys flicking leaves up in the air in search of the acorns that were buried under them. When I was in Vermont last fall, we saw several large flocks of turkeys foraging in corn fields that had been harvested. I’m sure they were scavenging for corn seed that had dropped to the ground during the harvest. This makes an easy meal for them. Good thing it was after turkey season (and after Thanksgiving) or they would have been easy pickin’s for someone’s Sunday dinner!
We watched our turkeys for quite a long time. Breakfast was put on hold for a while as Eric got his camera and telephoto lens and started taking pictures. It was hard to get good shots though because he was shooting through the window but I’m quite certain that they would have run off if we had ventured outside to take pictures.
Turkeys may not be the most attractive birds in the world but they certainly do have beautiful plumage. When the sunlight hit the feathers of the big toms, they were very iridescent; sometimes reflecting a shimmering bronze and other times flashing red, green, or even blue depending on where and how the light hit them and how their feathers were fluffed. Very cool! Their heads kind of ruin the effect though, being featherless and gnarly with all kinds of protuberances sticking out all over – especially the males. But, I suppose beauty is in the eyes of the beholder – the hens must see them differently!
Eventually we got our breakfast but those turkeys ended up spending the whole morning and part of the afternoon foraging in our woods. They must have found the mother lode of acorns and other delicacies out there! I saw four turkeys in the woods on Monday morning but haven’t seen any since then.
I hope we see them again at mating time which usually starts around March. It would be really neat to be able to hear the toms gobbling to attract the hens and then see them strut around all puffed up with their tail feathers beautifully fanned out during their courtship ritual in their attempt to persuade the females that they are the top banana.
I’ve never heard a wild turkey gobble but I’ve read that you can hear the call up to a mile away! Fascinating!
Until next time – Happy Gardening!