Question answered about more-legged friends.
Every morning in the late summer and fall, a flock of turkeys start hanging out in my horse pasture. These birds are often present from morning till dusk wandering around and foraging for food. Sometimes they are seen exploring the neighborhood. However, every evening when the day is transitioning into dusk, the turkeys return to my yard to roost in the pine tree grove by my brook for the night. The turkeys return in a line and then form a crowd. One by one, each turkey takes its turn to take off and fly up to a tree branch. It is comical to watch the routine take place. The turkeys communicate with each other as if giving instructions as to who gets to go first.
I once asked an old farmer friend of mine why the turkeys fly one by one into the trees.
His response was that turkeys are stupid and if they didn’t go one by one, they would fly into each other. Makes sense to me.
Turkeys, like most game birds, are active during the day and roost during the night to avoid predators. I’ve head that turkeys will roost on roof tops, deck and porch railings, and even vehicles. In my neighborhood, I guess we are lucky they prefer my pine trees.
Turkeys, either male (“tom”) or female (“hen”) can be aggressive towards humans. Like chickens, turkeys have a pecking order. The pecking order establishes a social hierarchy within the flock. As a result, some turkeys may attempt to dominate or even attack humans they may view as subordinates. This behavior occurs more often than not during the breeding season which is between March and May.
Chickens will also behave in this fashion. I have a very dominant Rhode Island Red hen that attacks me as soon as I enter the coop. Surprisingly, most people think that roosters are aggressive and will attack but hens will as well. At the present time, I actually have very friendly, submissive roosters – at least towards me.
Turkeys may also become aggressive towards shiny or reflective objects. Since the shiny or reflective object will not respond to the turkey’s attempt to chase it away, the turkey will make repeated attacks in attempts to succeed in making the violator go away.
A female turkey or hen will have a dozen eggs or more in a shallow nest made in the ground. The incubation period is approximately a month. The baby turkeys, or poults, are immediately active. The poults will stay with mom for about four or five months. During that time, the poults learn about their environment and where to obtain food from the elder birds of the flock.
Adult turkeys mostly feed on plants, acorns, nuts, berries, grapes, and skunk cabbage. Since my horse pasture includes a brook, there is an abundance of skunk cabbage.
There are also plenty of wild grapes and nuts. No wonder why the turkeys love my yard so much! The poults will consume insects during the summer months.
In summer, fall and winter a flock will usually consist of mother hens and their offspring. Hens that have no offspring will often form flocks of their own. Adult males have a separate flock.
In late fall, juvenile males will often separate from their family and form their own flock.
In the spring, all separate flocks will join to form one. As breeding season begins, the flock breaks up into separate groups consisting of two or three toms and five to fifteen hens. As the hens begin to lay, the toms will again rejoin to form their own flock while the hens will raise their poults and the cycle starts again.
The range of the turkeys will vary from four square miles to two square miles depending on the season.
Since turkeys are often seen in our neighborhoods and backyards, I thought it would be interesting to provide some educational information on these fascinating birds.
Till next time, respect and appreciate each other as well as all the wonderful critters that share our world.
- Wednesday, 07 November 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Four-legged Friends