Skip to main content

The Daily Bucket is a place where we can post and exchange our observations about the natural happenings in our neighborhoods. Birds, bugs, blossoms and more - each notation is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the natural patterns that are unwinding around us.


The trees created a natural bower, covering the path, dimming the sunlight, dappling the grass below. Ahead of us a single turkey bobbed, leading us, occasionally turning to look over her shoulder. As we stepped into the sunlight, the turkey disappeared, a ghost evaporating from view. Instead, we could see the ancient tombstones rising out of the earth, declaring to all the mortality of mankind...




That little story took place several years ago when we visited the grave sites of some of Jim's ancestors in western Illinois. The turkey in the tale was real (and not the turkey in the photo above), a little eerie, perhaps, but not a phantom.

Indeed, wild turkeys are common. Native to North America, they range across the continent, most densely in the eastern half of the country, including Iowa and Illinois.  According to the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF):

From only 30,000 turkeys in the early 1900s to more than 7 million today, this intriguing species has truly made an awesome comeback.
Around us, we used to see turkeys now and then in our yard. Flocks of a dozen or more would wander in, checking the food supply, before wandering out again. We haven't seen any for at least a couple of years, since there has been more development around us.

Here are some more fun facts about wild turkeys from the NWTF:

Two major characteristics distinguish males from females: spurs and beards. Both sexes have long, powerful legs covered with scales and are born with a small button spur on the back of the leg. Soon after birth, a male's spur starts growing pointed and curved and can grow to about two inches. Most hen's spurs do not grow. Gobblers also have beards, which are tufts of filaments, or modified feathers, growing out from the chest. Beards can grow to an average of 9 inches (though they can grow much longer). It must also be noted that 10 to 20 percent of hens have beards.

Hens lay a clutch of 10 to 12 eggs during a two-week period, usually laying one egg per day. She will incubate her eggs for about 28 days, occasionally turning and rearranging them until they are ready to hatch.

Wild turkeys like open areas for feeding, mating and habitat. They use forested areas as cover from predators and for roosting in trees at night. A varied habitat of both open and covered area is essential for wild turkey survival.

And from my favorite bird site, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology,
A native of North America, the turkey is one of only two domesticated birds originating in the New World. The Muscovy Duck is the other.

European explorers took Wild Turkeys to Europe from Mexico in the early 1500s. They were so successfully domesticated in Europe that English colonists brought them back with them when they settled on the Atlantic Coast. The domestic form has retained the white tail tip of the original Mexican subspecies, and that character can be used to distinguish wandering barnyard birds from wild turkeys which have chestnut-brown tail tips.

The male Wild Turkey provides no parental care. When the eggs hatch, the chicks follow the female. She feeds them for a few days, but they quickly learn to feed themselves. Several hens and their broods may join up into bands of more than 30 birds. Winter groups have been seen to exceed 200.

Familiar and unfamiliar calls may be found here.



Jim and I are with family today, as are many of you, but we'll be back to read and respond later. What is going on in the (natural) world around you? Any stories of wild turkeys you can share?

Poll

Are you eating turkey for Thanksgiving?

62%17 votes
37%10 votes
0%0 votes

| 27 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site