Posts Tagged ‘flock of wild turkeys’

As I looked down one of the trails yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I spotted a group of large birds sprawled across the entire width of the trail. Having seen Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) a couple of times at this refuge, I correctly identified them, but I couldn’t figure out what they were doing. I later learned from the website of the National Wild Turkey Federation that wild turkeys use dust baths as part of their preening and plumage maintenance.

wild turkey

I tried to be stealthy and moved quietly forward, but the trail was wide and clear and the turkeys became aware of my presence. The flock slowly moved away— several of the turkeys flapped their wings to get a little additional momentum. I was uncertain if wild turkeys can fly and was surprised to learn from one internet source that wild turkeys can fly swiftly, with a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour (88 kph) and can run up to 25 mph (40 kph).

wild turkey

After a brief period of frantic movement, the birds settled down and began to forage. They seemed a little confused and looked around in different directions. When I got a bit closer, they eventually decided to move into the woods and did so in a rather leisurely fashion.

wild turkey

I could not tell for certain, but it looked to me that this flock of turkeys was made up of females and juveniles—I did not see any of the turkeys that look like the stereotypical male turkeys that are featured in the run-up to Thanksgiving. I will be alert for any sign of those males during future trips to this wildlife refuge.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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