I typically do NOT feed the turkeys that march through my yard in platoons up to two dozen strong. But I relent under a few circumstances, for example if:
1. I have a lot of stale bread or left over Indian Corn. But in this instance I am feeding as many squirrels and other birds as I am turkeys.
2. Guests who have never seen turkeys are in the house when they are marching by to better feeding grounds. Everyone should have a chance to see in person in the wild this first runner up to the national bird.
3. The snow is so heavily concentrated that there is no bare ground visible and perhaps won’t be for months and thus food supplies are very limited.
Right now we’re experiencing circumstance number three.
It’s snowed 4 times in the past two weeks with two storms gathering strength for potential visits next week.
TURKEY TALE 1
It’s late February now and turkeys are starting to couple off so I do not see the great flocks I saw earlier in the season. Instead I see this one dope turkey – the feathered equivalent of every over muscled bully, brutish guy ever depicted in fiction. Big physique, pushing himself too close to his intended. I watch them stop traffic as the little one zigzags down the street and he follows after, reducing the distance between them – chest puffed up, coiffure just so, doing everything in his power to be noticed. Little one wanders about like Belle with her nose in her book, oblivious to his fabulosity. They are together always and the little one doesn’t fly away, and the big one never completely catches up.
I’m not quite sure if this is an actual courtship ritual or just an early middle school dance for fowl who flirt at flirting but still find the opposite sex kind of icky. I’m not even sure what sex each is though I cannot imagine he of majestic and brutish bearing is not a he.
But maybe it is young love, as they seldom have an appetite for seeds or bread crusts, their gullets filled with butterflies only the love-sick understand. But were it I being tailed every day, every hour, by a suitor, I’d say “enough is enough – back off”; and maybe she does with a flip of a wing and a faster pace. My mother would advise “Ignore him and he’ll go away. And she does, but he’s having none of that. He has a soul mate to shadow, which is perhaps the same belief every human stalker shares.
TURKEY TALE 2
Early this morning I discovered two forgotten apples with more wrinkles than I have after an hour-long soak in a hot bath. So I did the only sensible thing. I opened the sliders and chucked one clear from my kitchen to the woods behind our place. I watched it disappear as it sank heavily into the snow. Apple two, I threw just over the edge of the deck to the little pathway I shoveled below and it split upon landing on the frozen ground.
At three o’clock I was upstairs admiring the most beautiful white bunny in the world (AKA Mystic the GWB) and looked out the window wondering whether I shall compare her to a winter’s day. (She art far more lovely and temperate.)
This particular winter’s day featured three darkly contrasting shapes standing out against the heavily snowed woods – three turkeys. One small turkey stood stock still, its out-stretched neck resulting in a tiny head plunged in the snow like a cartoon ostrich in the sand*. The turkey seemed not to move and I obviously came to the conclusion its head was lodged and trapped beneath a branch. The other two turkeys edged in closer to help, no doubt, but without a clue what to do. I put on my rubber boots and heavy coat and gloves ready to take on the turkey rescue mission. I was fleet of foot as I flew down the stairs and headed to the door without even stopping for my camera.
I hadn’t quite made it outside when the view from the back deck changed. The little turkey moved. Not much and always with the neck fully extended in a downward angle approximating 7:30 on a non-digital clock. I followed its movements until concerted effort brought the head up higher than the terrain. Dangling from its mouth was first the stem and then the entire giant wrinkly apple.
The other turkeys crowded in for their share of the bounty…a slow mo chase ensued. The heavy apple probably 4x the size of the turkey head prohibited most evasive movements, but the little turkey prevailed.
Me? I stayed inside, cutting up a less wrinkly apple and chucking the pieces off the edge of the deck hoping that would encourage sharing in the future.
(c)2013 by Alison Colby-Campbell
*Ostriches do not actually burying their heads in the sand; that is a myth.