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Posts Tagged ‘turkey’

I am more of a liberal arts guy than a scientist, so the details of bird identification often escape me. Sue of the Back Yard Biology blog, on the other hand, is a self-avowed “geeky science nerd.” She decided to do some work to find out how to tell the age of a wild turkey. I suspect that many of you will find her posting as fascinating as I did, so be sure to click on the View Original Post in order to see her entire posting.

Be sure also to check out other postings on her wonderful blog. Sue is one of my most faithful followers and was one of the first to comment on my earliest postings more than seven years ago.

Back Yard Biology

It’s that time again, when tom Turkeys begin to strut their stuff in the backyard.  The other day, a FB friend/fellow wildlife photographer posted a shot of a tom turkey (https://michaelqpowell.com/2020/03/22/panic-or-calm/) that looked quite a bit different than the one I have been seeing in my backyard.  I thought it looked younger, but I wondered how one can tell the age of male wild Turkey.  So, I googled that thought, and it turns out it’s not a hard thing to do (assuming you can judge lengths somewhat accurately).

The key things to look for are the length of the beard (the hair-like structures — which are modified feathers) hanging down from its breast), the color of the tip of the beard, and the length of the spurs on the back of the lower-most part of its leg next to the foot (the tarsometatarsus to be exact).

It’s still early in…

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Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) reacted in different ways yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge when they detected my presence. One turkey seemed to panic, put down its head, and sprinted to the other side, while the other calmly strode across the trail. Both reached the other side safely. Was this the turkey version of social distancing?

How do you react in the face of a perceived threat? These days, this question is not merely an academic one—it is part of our daily lives. I think we all experience moments of panic, but we can choose not to let those feelings overwhelm us. Stay safe and healthy within the limits imposed on you by the current crisis and be sure to take care of yourselves.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Most of the times when I see Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, they are foraging in the open along one of the trails. As I approach, they usually disappear deep into the vegetation.

At this time of the year, though, I can see a lot farther into the woods than when there are leaves on the trees. Occasionally now I can get a glimpse of the turkeys moving about in the distance. I was happy to capture these head shots last week of one of the local turkeys as it popped in and out of view.

wild turkey

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I spotted this Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) roosting low in a tree at the edge of a trail last Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I was initially happy to be able to get a shot. As I got closer, though, I was saddened to see that the turkey appeared to be injured or more likely suffering from a disease.

I was initially alerted to the presence of a ranger who drove past me heading in the opposite direction in a truck. I was sure that the passing of the truck had spooked the turkey and was surprised to see that it was still there as I silently moved closer. I noted small movements by the turkey, so I could tell that it was alive, but the extent of the damage to its face made me wonder if it could see. I quickly took the first two shots and departed.

When I circled back an hour later, I could see that the turkey had changed positions, but was still perched in the tree. I could now see that the damage to the other side of its face was equally severe. I worry about the survivability of this injured/sick wild turkey.

 

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I accidentally spooked a small flock of wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) on Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and one of them flew up into a tree in the middle of a field. I waited patiently and captured these shots when the turkey finally flew out of the tree. As you probably have noticed, the images are not in chronological order—I decided to lead with the two shots in which the turkey is in the air, which I think are the most dramatic images, and finish with the shot in which the turkey was starting to take off.

I was shooting almost straight into the sun, which is why the turkey is mostly a silhouette and the images seem like they were shot in black and white.

wild turkey

wild turkey

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I do not know where the Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) were hiding, but I don’t think that I spotted a single one all summer. All of the sudden they seem to be back and I have seen them repeatedly during my most recent visits to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

During most of my encounters, I have spotted them in the distance, pecking away at the side of the trail. Before I can get within camera range, they usually sense my presence and waddle into the undergrowth. I was fortunate, however, to capture a shot of this one turkey who had lingered in the open a bit longer than his compatriots.

Wild Turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I was thrilled to get a glimpse of this impressive-looking Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I have seen Wild Turkeys at this refuge on numerous occasions, but this is one of the first images that I have been able to capture this spring.

I am always amazed when I come upon a male turkey displaying his feathers. I grew up in the suburbs of Boston and the only turkeys that I ever saw were those in the freezer at the supermarket, which did not look anything like this bird, and the cutout figures that we would pin to the wall to celebrate Thanksgiving. Somehow I always thought those cutouts were cartoonish caricatures—little did I know that wild turkeys actually look like those colorful figures.

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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