Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Let's Talk Turkey

Several days ago, my 93-year old mother started shouting at me to come quickly. Fearing something was terribly wrong, I ran into the family room. She was sitting in Papa’s armchair, which used to be my dad’s favorite seat, and pointing out the window. Running like little drunken sailors, there were about a dozen baby wild turkeys exploring our lawn. The father turkey was guarding them on the left side from potential attackers. The mama turkey walked very slowly and regally in the rear of her brood.

So, now they have a daily route, crossing from my neighbor on the left to my neighbor on the right in the morning. Sometimes, they go back the other direction by the barn around sunset. They ran through the corral on Sunday night. Fortunately, I had already tucked the horses in their stalls. Silk and Siete are very interested in the new arrivals. They don’t tense up like they do when the deer come through the pasture. Instead, they watch curious but relaxed with their heads craning out the top of the stall windows as the crazy babies race wildly around. If turkeys could talk, these little guys would be shouting, “Look at this!” “No, over here! Look at this!” “Hey, hey, come see what I found!” Mom and Dad Turkey just patiently and slowly guide their path from the side and the rear.

Last night, as I was in the kitchen making dinner, they appeared in the flower garden outside the bay window, clucking and running in circles like kids at a birthday party. I can tell when they’re coming because my cats suddenly start racing from window to window inside the house, marking their progress across the yard.

I turned to Ted Andrews’ “Animal Speak” book to see what he has to say about this sudden influx of turkeys in our life. I was relieved to read that the bird is a symbol of all the blessing that Earth gives us and our ability to use them to our greatest advantage. The turkey is also called “the earth eagle” and symbolizes spirituality and honors the Earth Mother. Of course we would have them here, I thought, since this property is safe and very potent with its earth energy. The only ones who will be upset are the squirrels. We have a charming, lively family who live in our hickory trees. Turkeys supposedly like to steal nuts from the squirrels’ secret pantries. Turkeys also live as long as 12 years, so I have a good feeling that we’ll be seeing these guys for a long time to come.

UPDATE: Now, the dad has moved on and another mom and her babies have joined the group. So, we've got 20 little turkeys frolicking around with two watchful mamas. They were learning to roost on the bottom rail of the fence in the pasture yesterday. They couldn't keep their balance so they would tumble off, roll in the arena dust and try again.


Grey Horse Matters said...

The description in "Animal Speak" is very intriguing and I'm happy to learn of this definition of turkey appearances. We have a flock every year too. It starts out with the male turkeys spreading their feathers and doing the mating dance for the females. I am amused by the females each year as they totally ignore the males. Then as you said about this time of year the babies arrive and they waddle and run all over the property. The only thing that saddens me is I always count the little chicks and each year day by day one will go missing. I'm wondering if the coyotes are getting them. I like to think they are just slower and hiding out from mom and dad turkey. I've never been able to get close enough for a picture either. They're faster than you might think.

billie said...

Nice to read some bird encounters from other perspectives! Ted Andrews' book is one of my longtime favorites. I love the Nature Speak one just as much.

Interesting how differently horses react. Mine graze alongside the deer, especially Cody, who I have found more than once completely separated from the other horses, standing in the very center of a herd of visiting deer. He has such a soft and loving demeanor, I suspect his energy doesn't threaten them at all.

The pony won't let anything cross his pasture without checking it out! I have watched him chase Canadian geese, crows, wild ducks, etc. that have landed in our fields.

Hopefully you can get a photo before the turkey babies grow up!

M. C. Valada said...

What a great routine! You'll have to keep the camera at the ready for the next time. My brother says they are quite frightening in flight, because they are a lot bigger than they look on land, with very large wingspans.

When I worked at Stanford University, there was a family of California quail who would walk in line around the physics building. The best time to catch them was after a spring storm, when the sun would come back out. Just beautiful.

Bill Evertson said...

Since buying our place about ten years ago I have been fascinated by the annual parade of turkeys and their offspring. This year-a lone young male. Everyday that I spot him I wonder what happened. I used to be treated with an extended family. I also loved your last post, concerning where you post from. I took a few photos last night at the urging of my son that upon review look extremely messy. Karen will strangle me but I think I will post a counterpoint. Best

djbrown said...

Blessings on you and your extended family!

Rising Rainbow said...

So now your farm has become a turkey crossing. That's cool.

Gecko said...

How amazing to have wild turkeys passing so close to your home!! Would love to see some photos!!

detroit dog said...


Chris said...

How cute! I can't think of what the equivalent would be here - perhaps swans or pelicans and their young - yup, just can't picture it!

Enjoy your new found friends :)