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Posts Tagged ‘Wild Turkey’

Although it has been almost a week since I last posted an image of a bird, let me reassure you that I have not given up on them. At this time of the year, however, my attention is divided and I am just as likely to be hunting for tiny subjects with my macro lens as I am to be scanning the increasing leafy trees through my long telephoto zoom lens. When I start walking (and I do a lot of walking), I have to decide which lens I will initially put on my camera and that will largely dictate where I will look for subjects.

On Thursday, I went back to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge to look for birds and was delighted to spot a small flock of Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). Sometimes the turkeys that I see appear relatively small, but some of the members of this flock seemed enormous, like the one in the first photo. The turkeys were picking about at the edge of the trail on which I was walking and slowly made their way into the undergrowth as I approached. The motion was fast enough, though, that one of the turkey’s legs is blurred in the second photo.

I am hoping to be able to capture some images of springtime warblers and of baby eaglets, but the transition has already begun from mostly telephoto shots to mostly macro shots—it is part of my seasonal transition.

wild tukey

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I do not know about the reactions of the lady turkeys, but I was mighty impressed by the display of this male Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) early yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. A lot of male birds go to great lengths to impress and attract females during the early spring, but this wild turkey’s presentation might take the prize for being so flamboyant and ostentatious. I guess he has truly embraced the motto, “Go big or go home.”

Wild Turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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A small flock of Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) disappeared into the underbrush on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, but I kept on eye on them and managed to get this first shot as one of them made its way through the dried stalks of vegetation.

Later that same day, I had another sighting of turkeys and captured a familiar view of a turkey hurrying across the road. I like the way that the second shot shows the turkey’s “beard,” the tuft that looks a bit like a miniature horsetail dangling from its breast.

Wild Turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) do not run very fast, but the panning technique that I used for the photo below blurred the background and makes it look like the turkey was moving really quickly. I really like the effect that I achieved, but I must confess that it was what Bob Ross might have called a “happy accident.”

My visit yesterday to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge was coming to a close when I spotted a turkey in the distance getting ready to cross the road. My camera was attached to a monopod and I immediately planted it into the ground and tried to track the turkey with my zoom lens extended to its full 600mm length.

I had no idea what the setting were on my camera—I was completely focused on trying to capture the moment. As it turned out, the shutter speed was way too slow to stop the action, only 1/50 of a second, so my subject is somewhat blurred. When you plan to pan, you deliberately set a slow shutter speed, normally between 1/30 and 1/125 of a second and I happened to be within that range. I was also moving the camera pretty smoothly as I tracked the big bird.

Luck and instinctive reactions helped me capture a fun, funky image that puts a huge smile on my face every time that I look at it. I hope that it does the same for you.

 

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am not sure why this wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) decided to flash its feathers at me yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, but it sure made for a fun photo. A fellow photographer spotted a small flock of turkeys foraging in a faraway field and we tried to track them as they made their way up a small slope at the edge of the field.

Most of the time the turkeys kept their heads down as they moved forward, scratching about in the dirt, as you can see in the final photo. I had to wait patiently, hopeful that one of them would raise its head briefly before they got too far away. I was thrilled when the turkey in the second shot stood still for a moment and almost ecstatic when it fanned and flashed its feathers as you saw in the featured first photo.

wild turkey

wild turkey

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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If I wander the trails of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge for a long enough period of time, I am quite likely to encounter some Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). I have seen them in almost all parts of the refuge and suspect that there are several flocks that reside there.

Last Monday I encountered a small flock that appeared to include a half-dozen or so turkeys. They were scratching about at the edge of one of the trails and did not seem to notice me as I slowly made my way forward. All of the sudden, one of the turkeys flapped its wings a little as if to sound an alarm, as you can see in the second image below. All of the turkeys started to move and slowly disappeared into the underbrush. I was thrilled to capture the first image as they were striding away.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How often have you heard the platitude that you should cultivate an attitude of gratitude? Many of us will nod our head in agreement when we hear those words and then continue on in our self-centered lives, firm in our conviction that we are independent and self-sufficient, and that all that we have is the result of our own efforts. Wikipedia describes a platitude in these words, “A platitude is a trite, meaningless, or prosaic statement, often used as a thought-terminating cliché, aimed at quelling social, emotional, or cognitive unease. The statement may be true, but its meaning has been lost due to its excessive use.”

In the United States, one day a year is set aside to give thanks, Thanksgiving Day. Traditionally Americans will gather around a table and before they eat, each person will be asked to name one thing for which they are thankful. Some people find it difficult to be put in that position.

Why is it so tough to be thankful? Our society bombards us with messages that we should never be satisfied with what we have and should always want more—we can easily be trapped into focusing on what we do not have rather than on what we do have.

Last night at a Zoom church service I heard again the words of Scripture that reminds us to give thanks “in everything.” In everything? Yes, we should be thankful in absolutely everything. The experience of the last nine months has caused me to reexamine a lot of things that I had previously taken for granted. All of the sudden I was increasingly thankful for essential workers, for fellow citizens who wore masks and stayed at home, for the food that was present on the almost empty shelves at the grocery stores, for my relative good health, and for the roof over my head.

As many of you know, I have been blessed to be able to continue to find refuge in nature and to share my photos and experiences in this blog. I recently noticed that I have done a posting every single day so far this year. I really want to all of you for your overwhelming support and encouragement, which has been one of the few constant factors in my life as the world around me has swirled out of control.

Whether you are in the United States or not, I hope that today you will pause for a least a few moments and reflect on those people and things for which you are truly thankful. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Day 2020.

In case you are curious, I photographed this handsome Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) earlier this month at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Some people hunt wild turkeys, but the turkey that I will consume later today will be one that I purchased at the supermarket.

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Friday I spotted a flock of Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. At least one of them was not very happy—perhaps the turkey knew that Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching.

The turkeys were all clustered together, so it was impossible to isolate one for a cleaner shot. I was happy, though, to be able to capture the beautiful coloration and patterns of the turkeys’ feathers.

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During my recent trips to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I have been seeing a lot of Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). Most of the time they have been in small groups, but occasionally I will run across one that seems to be alone or maybe simply separated temporarily from its group.

In the first photos, you will notice the long “beards” of two of the turkeys, which suggest that they are mature males. Generally flocks of turkeys are separated by gender and by age, so these may all be mature males, though the one on the left looks to be smaller than the other three, though that might simply be a factor of the viewing angle. The turkey in the second photo has a shorter “beard” and may be a jake, the term used for an immature male turkey.

It is interesting to watch wild turkeys. They seem slow and deliberate in all that they do, strutting and poking about for food. Even when they are spooked, they don’t accelerate quickly as most birds do, but instead they slowly fade into the underbrush.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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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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I spotted this large Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) strutting about at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge this past weekend with about a dozen of his close friends. It was hard to get a group shot, so I focused instead on the largest turkey in the group and captured this image.

Wild Turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The vegetation at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge was so high recently that these two foraging wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) disappeared from view each time they leaned forward. It was like a game trying to figure out where they would pop up next. I played the game for for quite some time before I was able to capture them both in a single frame with their eyes visible—in most of the other shots the turkeys were looking away from me.

wild turkeys

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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This past Monday I spotted this Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as it basked in the warmth of the early morning sunlight. Earlier this year I would see turkeys regularly as I walked the trails at the wildlife refuge, but the last couple of months such sightings have been rare.

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes the view from the back is just as spectacular as the view from the front. I spotted this male Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) in full display this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There were no females around to impress, but somehow, like a vain bodybuilder, this guy seemed compelled to flex and show off, even while doing something as mundane as foraging for food.

Initially I was disappointed that this turkey steadfastly refused to turn around and show me his face. As I surveyed the scene, though, I realized that I really loved the perfect fan shape of the displayed tail and the geometric abstractness of the the turkey from this angle. In fact, this kind of a shot might cause viewers to linger a little longer on the image as they gradually figure out what the main subject is, i.e. that it is a wild turkey.

 Wild Turkey
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was amazed and thrilled yesterday when I spotted an impressively large male Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) putting on a showy display at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge near the edge of an open field. I suspect the lady turkeys were impressed too.

I have seen wild turkeys multiple times at this wildlife refuge, but generally it has been groups of females and their offspring. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, “Courting males gobble to attract females and warn competing males. They display for females by strutting with their tails fanned, wings lowered, while making nonvocal hums and chump sounds. Males breed with multiple mates and form all-male flocks outside of the breeding season, leaving the chick-rearing to the females.” I was not able to get close enough to hear any gobbling, but the visual display by itself was stunning.

Spring is the season for love and I will be on the lookout as more male birds try to outdo their competitors and find mates using their brilliant colors, musical calls, or elaborate courting rituals.

Wild Turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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This past Monday I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of several large wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) foraging in a field just off of the road early in the morning as I was driving into Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I stopped the car, grabbed my camera, and leaned out of the window, but was unable to frame a shot. I quietly got out of the car and was able to capture several images of one of them before they sensed my presence and scurried into the treeline and out of my sight.

wild turkey

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I heard some rustling deep in the heavy brush this morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and then caught sight of some bright colors—it was a male wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) along with several females. Focusing manually, I managed to get this shot.

Although I would have liked to get an unobstructed view of this magnificent bird, I actually like the way that the blurry vegetation creates a soft vignette that draws the viewer to the head of the turkey.

Wild Turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Now that it is November, many Americans will start to think of turkeys, and in particular the ones that they will consume on Thanksgiving Day.  I have nothing against eating turkey, but I shudder to think of the conditions under which domesticated turkeys are raised—it is much more exciting to see Wild Turkeys in the wild.

As I wander the trails at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I have gotten used to encountering small flocks of Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) from time to time at several different locations. One of the volunteers with whom I talked estimated that there are over a hundred Wild Turkeys within the 642 acres (2.6 sq km) of the refuge.

When I see them, the turkeys are usually foraging along the paths and in open areas of the woods. Most often the turkeys move into the woods as soon as they sense my presence, but occasionally I can move close enough to them to get shots of individual turkeys. Lighting is often a challenge, because the sunlight filtering through the trees creates bands of intense light and shadows.

Here are a couple of my favorite shots from this past Monday—I really like the display of feathers in the first image and the regal upright pose in the second shot.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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A small flock of wild turkeys yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge moved off of the trail and into the woods as I approached. Peering through the vegetation a few seconds later, I was able to catch a glimpse of one of them that may have though it was well hidden.

It would be hard for me to say that Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are beautiful, but they sure do have a distinctive look.

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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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I never know what I will see when I go out with my camera. This morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I spotted a small flock of Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). They disappeared into the brush as soon as they became aware of my presence, but I did manage to capture a few images. I pretty sure that the turkey in both of these shots is a female.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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