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Posted by: atowhee | April 1, 2010

Walkin’ Turkey Has Me Talkin’ Turkey

A pair of Wild Turkeys spent several minutes politely cleaning up the sunflower seeds on the ground in our garden this afternoon.  I hadn’t seen them in some days, assuming it’s the same pair I’ve seen occasionally all year so far.

The Wild Turkey is not native anywhere in Oregon (0r California).  The first ones were brought here to the Rogue Valley in 1975.  They are the Rio Grande subspecies.  The turkeys are now plentiful in oak forested areas in Jackson County.  Statewide a few th9ousand males are killed every year during the legal hunting season.

The turkeys live in socially complex societies, especially after breeding season.  The adults take care over the young long after they are fledged and flight-worthy.

According to BNA, they’ll eat almost anything. “Vegetable matter with smaller amounts of animal matter, primarily invertebrates and cold-blooded vertebrates; grit is important; extremely adaptable and catholic in feeding. Size of area and locality over which flocks roam is governed by food supply.”

THeir large feet make fine rakes, and they cause some concern among naturalists here where the birds are not native.  What long-term effect will they have on invertebrates and old seedlings in the forests they inhabit.  They do not seem adapted to higher elevations but global warming is likely to be in their favor.  They do well in hot and arid habitat.

The Junco males are now signing their spring song.  A rapid series of about ten notes, all on the same pitch and volume.  The doves are down to one or two pairs each day, the others are off to breeding territories somewhere else.  The Flicker pair comes to feed daily.  The Downy is still drumming but Flickers are beyond that stage, perhaps even have eggs in their nest hole.

Location:     243 Granite Street, Ashland
Observation date:     4/1/10
Notes:     Junco and MODO numbers are diminished from February while the Lesser Goldfinch count is up.
Number of species:     11

Wild Turkey     2
Mourning Dove     3
Downy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     1
Steller’s Jay     7
Western Scrub-Jay     2
Black-capped Chickadee     1
American Robin     1
Spotted Towhee     1
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)     18
Lesser Goldfinch     8

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