Posted by: atowhee | February 13, 2023


With heavy rain pinging on the metal chimney flashing, it is with comforting nostalgia I mentally rewind to those sunny moments of yore–like some fleeting inter-cloud times just yesterday. Click on any image for full screen effect.

Turkey plumage in this flock is now at courtship peak. In direct sun there is a attention-demanding efflorescence of iridescence. Even then I am not sure there are enough syllables in English to more than h8int at what your eyes behold. Golden glow, green sheen, rich earthy tones that my colorblind vision can only guess at, within a single feather the contrast of muted darkness and shining brass. Across our garden and neighborhood you can see the shed wintery feathers scattered about, though not as abundant as the turkeys’ plops of fertilizing manure.

With such feathers on display it is easy to ignore that bare head, those huge feet. Here’s what Birds of the World(BOW) website has to say about that face: “In the breeding season, snood of dominant male is extended and coloration of carunculated area of head and neck is enhanced with brilliant red predominating, blue surrounding eyes, and a white “pancake” on crown; colors and extension of snood change rapidly with mood.”

“Carunculated”! So, aren’t you glad you read this far on this blog. Among female turkeys is there “snood appeal?”

Now for the math. Feb, 8 we saw flock of 8. None on Feb. 9. Feb 10–fifteen. Feb. 11–no turkeys. Feb. 12–the restored total flock of 21, first time in many days all were together. Today, Feb. 13, a quartet near dawn. Then around 9AM, seventeen. Yes, four plus seventeen equals total flock of 21. UPDATE: BY 230pm the turkey flock was back, afternoon aggregation and aggravation: they wanted more food–all TWENTY-ONE of them this time. So a fluid social situation here in mid-winter.

Our turkeys may begin copulating this month. When any female is ready to nest she will go off by herself. She will nest on the ground, usually laying several eggs. The males have nothing to do with family matters once they’ve supplied the necessary sperm. They very opposite of the patriarchal Canada Geese who will threaten to eat your chihuahua if it nears their goslings or mate. All of last year’s juvenile female turkeys are now capable of breeding and nesting. Turkeys hook-up, but don’t get engaged or married.
As the females go off to perpetuate the species, the males will mostly form small fraternal orders. Inboth genders there is a pecking order, a violently enforced hierarchy.

BOW revealed this shocking factoid: adult turkeys have been seen swimming. But as I ponder…if one smelled or saw an island made of suet blocks and sunflower chips, naturally that turkey would eagerly jump right in and paddle off to dine.

Lastly, these turkeys were introduced into the Willamette Valley less than fifty years ago. Only the invasive collared-doves are more recent arrivals among our common birds.

SALEM AUDUBON–Man and Raptor: An Eye to Eye Understanding

Birder’s Night
Feb. 14, 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Don’t miss our next Birder’s Night… in person if possible… Man and Bird: A Raptor Relationship, featuring a great speaker and a live free-flying raptor ambassador!

The human presenter is Kathleen Dodge, Raptor Education Director for the Chintimini Wildlife Center. Chintimini is a 501-(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to protect and celebrate Oregon’s native wildlife since 1989.

It is based in Lewisburg, 3 miles north of Corvallis but supports native wildlife rehabilitation hospital operations for animals from Benton Linn, Lane, Polk, and Marion Counties. Their rehabilitation efforts take in over 2000 animals (primarily birds) a year.

Don’t miss the LIVE potential of this special Birders Night! The in-person meeting will be in the Mexico Room of Broadway Commons, 1300 Broadway St. SE, Salem, and simulcast on ZOOM.

ZOOM attendees must register in advance at this link:

Idaho has discovered the tourist value of the Great Gray Owl–click here for a description.


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