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Monday, July 25, 2011

THEY'RE BACK!

They're back!  And they've brought their chicks with them.

The wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) that live in our valley move to higher ground for nesting and hatching their young, so from about April through most of July we don't see very many down here near the creek bottom.  One would think we'd be excited to have them back, but they are so ubiquitous that we've counted as many a one hundred in the pasture behind the house.  "And they leave tar-like shit in the driveway and on the porch," said Jay.

I'm not so sure that this area supported the wild turkey before the white man.  They certainly didn't live here when I was a kid in the 1950s.  It's the "trap and transfer" project about 12 years ago that dropped them into this valley.  It might be Merriam's Wild Turkey (M. g. merriami) that live here now, having originally thrived in the Rocky Mountain region, and having a predilection for roosting in ponderosa pines.  My mother found them delightful and fed them during the winters.  I've been told that she'd stand in the driveway surrounded by dozens of wild turkeys and whitetail deer, tossing out handfuls of cracked corn.  She always had an affinity for wild creatures.

But now their population has exploded.  Their predators are coyotes, bobcats, cougars, golden eagles, as well as  great horned owls, dogs and foxes.  Humans are actually the leading predator of wild turkeys.  I shouldn't complain about their numbers because we have been asked by hunters to open our land for turkey hunts, but have declined.  They do feel safe here - and if Mom were dead, instead of in assisted living with dementia, she'd roll over in her grave at the thought of hunting on her land.

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