Early spring brings out large turkey flocks and provides a window into their otherwise rather private lives.
Despite all the strutting and posturing by the males, the ladies call the shots. When we see a hen go hull-down like this, we know what’s about to happen:
Turkey mating – invitation
Getting into the right position seems remarkably awkward and requires some cooperation:
Turkey mating – mounting
When her head and tail pop up, you know the thing is going right:
Turkey mating – the moment
And a back massage always feels so fine:
Turkey mating – massage
Then he’s back to strutting & posturing:
Turkey mating – aftermath
We hope they’ll show us their chicks …
Taken with the DSC-H5, hand-held through two panes of 1955-era window glass: ya get what ya get.
We’ve often seen turkeys perched on horizontal tree branches and split-rail fences, but this is new:
Turkey on patio rail
Apparently she wanted to use the bird feeder atop the post festooned with plastic squirrel deterrence. Not being Elastigirl, she couldn’t quite stretch from rail to feeder, eventually gave up trying, and flapped to the driveway.
We’ve been turkey-watching for nearly two decades, it’s been eight years since we saw a turkey on the patio, and a few days after I set up the yard camera, shazam, this bird shows off for my friend in Raleigh while I’m in the Basement Laboratory. I’m insane with jealousy.
In point of fact, turkeys seem perfectly aware of people inside the house, so it’s not surprising they avoid the patio. When we move close to a window, the flock decides it has business elsewhere and, generally without haste or confusion, flows over the hill and away.
Obviously, I must set up motion detection and capture some images …
This must feel soooo good:
Turkey Vulture atop utility pole – alert
Just close your eyes and soak up the warmth of the sun:
Turkey Vulture atop utility pole – snoozing
Turkey vultures look imposing, even with all that flight hardware tucked away:
Turkey Vulture on branch
However, I think this is a low-status bird, because those splashes on the left wing look a lot like bird crap…
Taken with the DSC-H5, zoomed all the way tight with the 1.7× teleadapter, handheld on a lovely sunny day.
Update: Because I write these posts a few days in advance of their appearance, I didn’t know yesterday’s weather would look like this:
Driveway clearing – 2017-03-14
That’s a screenshot from a Raspberry Pi streaming camera I set up so a friend in North Carolina could gloat.
I suppose the vultures huddle in a tree, as do the turkeys, and await better flying conditions.
Enjoy the sun while it shines!
These guys looked completely disgusted with the situation:
Turkeys on rail fence in snow
They’re about 130 feet away in a heavy snowstorm that eventually deposited about a foot of wet snow on the area.
The top rail really does slant downward: the tenon on the right end broke and fell out of the mortise.
The DSC-H5 carries the 1.7× teleadapter, zoomed all the way tight through two layers of 1955-ish window glass, hand-held, braced against the pane.
The day before that snowstorm, we biked 18 miles out-and-back over the Walkway in beautiful, sunny, mid-50s (°F) weather:
KE4ZNU-9 – APRS track – 2017-02-08
We ride when we can and shovel when we must!
A turkey flock forages through the bottomlands along the Wappinger Creek and, at night, roosts in the trees at the far end of our driveway:
Roosting Turkeys – visible
I’m a sucker for that moon:
Roosting Turkeys – visible
It’s rising into the eastward-bound cloud cover bringing a light snowfall, so we missed the penumbral eclipse.
If you’re counting turkeys, it’s easier with a contrasty IR image:
Roosting Turkeys – infra-red mode
Mary recently counted forty turkeys on the ground, so that’s just part of their flock. I think their air boss assigns one turkey per branch for safety; they weigh upwards of 10 pounds each!
Taken with the DSC-H5 and DSC-F717, both the the 1.7× teleadapter, hand-held in cold weather.
Searching the blog for turkey will turn up more pix, including my favorite IR turkey shot.
The turkey flock that normally lives along the Wappingers Creek valley, downslope from the back yard, has emerged for the ritual spring foraging:
Turkey flock – 0
Turkey flock – 1
And just moseying around:
Turkey flock – 2
You can match the trees and identify some duplicated birds, but the flock seems stable around a dozen. They used to deploy skirmish lines upwards of two dozen bird and we’ve recently counted 19; we think foxes have been encouraging better control of wandering chicks.
Turkeys are good folks…
We don’t often see Turkey Vultures on the ground, so this gathering was unusual:
Turkey vultures on the ground
The depression in the grass suggests something keeled over right there; perhaps they’re rummaging around for leftovers. Although they’re totally graceless on foot, it works well enough for them.
There were two vultures on posts when I stopped, but one joined the ground party before I could deploy the camera. The other bird kept a close eye on me throughout the proceedings:
Turkey vulture on fence post
Pix from the Canon SX230HS, zoomed to its optical limit, and certainly not prizewinners…