Wild Turkeys Arrive With Autumn

by Larry Jordan on October 4, 2009

Wild Turkey Hen with Poults photos by Larry Jordan

With autumn we get to witness the great migration of birds that breed to the north and pass through on their way to their wintering grounds.  We also begin to see our own wintering residents returning.  We have just begun to see Spotted Towhees and Northern Flickers returning to our yard, while the California Quail are forming coveys.  And a big plus this autumn are the local Wild Turkeys visiting!

Hen Turkey Bringing Poult to the Pond

The Wild Turkey is an endemic bird of North America.  They are non-migratory and have a very complex social structure.  They roost in trees at night and forage during the day for seeds and acorns, also feeding on insects and beetles.  Grit is also very important in the turkey’s diet to aid in the digestion process.  This flock is foraging under my feeders below the oak trees, in the open fields and on the lawn.

My guests appear to be a female brood flock of two hens and four poults.  They visit in the wee hours of the morning, before the sun comes up, to forage and drink from the pond, then return at dusk for more of the same before retiring to the trees.

Wild Turkey Poults at the Pond

After the hen and her brood leave the nesting area, they may unite with other broods to form larger groups.  Then, in late fall or early winter, when the juvenile males grow larger than the hens, they leave the hens and female poults to form their own independent flocks.  The juvenile male brood flocks may contain over twenty birds in the winter.  The female brood flocks, on the other hand, may band together forming flocks of over 200 birds during the winter.

The Wild Turkey hens teach their poults early and long lessons about predators.  They are a very wary breed.  They have excellent eye sight and hearing and with constant communication, alert the entire flock if something doesn’t seem quite right.  They will run or take flight rapidly when alerted, similar to quail.  Hearing an alert call from the hen, these two poults begin to run and can take flight in an instant.

The Wild Turkey hen is on constant alert, usually standing with her neck extended above the flock, looking for trouble on the horizon.

No worries here mama.  This is a danger free zone.  Relax and enjoy your stay!

Go see more great bird photos at Bird Photography Weekly.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Mick October 4, 2009 at 11:18 am

Those are interesting birds. I especially like the photo of the poults running off in alarm. Were domestic turkeys bred from these birds?
.-= Mick´s last blog ..Fairy Martins =-.

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Carol October 4, 2009 at 11:39 am

I have wild turkeys here too … a great source of entertainment especially in the winter in our crabapple orchard… there is a great crop so they will be active this winter. Your portraits are wonderful… there is this forlorn look about them when looking out for danger. Beautiful creatures. Carol
.-= Carol´s last blog ..TODAY’S FLOWER with A SPLASH OF YELLOW BEARDED FLUFF =-.

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Wren October 4, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Great photos, Larry. Do you ever see the males? I hadn’t thought of it until I was looking at your pics, but I always see just the females, or females and juveniles.
.-= Wren´s last blog ..I and the Eye of the Emu: Bird Photography Weekly =-.

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Larry October 4, 2009 at 2:42 pm

@Mick there are six sub-species of Wild Turkey, the “Rio Grande” (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) is the one that resides here in California. From what I understand, the “South Mexican” (M. g. gallopavo) sub-species was domesticated by the Aztec people of central Mexico sometime in the 15th century

@Carol we are the lucky ones aren’t we? To be witness to all these beautiful natural wonders

@Wren thanks. We never get a glimpse of a male Wild Turkey but we hear them gobbling close by every spring

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Faye October 4, 2009 at 3:12 pm

That is exactly what I saw this morning out our front window. Fortunately Heidi was in the house. Although I don’t think she would be able to catch them anymore.

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Amber Coakley October 4, 2009 at 5:32 pm

What a great article on wild turkeys! I never would have guessed that they roost in trees. I also had no idea that they had such a complex social structure. Very cool, and the pics are great – it is so nice to be able to look at them “up close.” Your yard sounds like one of the coolest birding yards I’ve heard of!
.-= Amber Coakley´s last blog ..What do you see? =-.

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Larry October 4, 2009 at 10:02 pm

@Faye what a coincidence. I think you are right about Heidi, or any dog, catching these wary birds

@Amber thank you very much. I love my yard 🙂

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Neil October 4, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Great series and nice to know your place is a danger free zone.

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chris October 5, 2009 at 7:49 am

Hi Larry,
Wild turkey!!! Gosh I would for sure be glad to see that. I’ve never seen them wild!
Same for us, our birds are starting to gather and will soon leave use for better place to spend the winter…. I kind of hope that some vagrants will be lost and join our Island for a while just like the waxings did last year!!

You have some beautiful shots there Larry!
.-= chris´s last blog ..Summary and images of the week end. =-.

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bob k October 5, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Beautiful pictures, Larry! It must be autumn and it is during autumn that I am reminded of Thanksgiving….and turkeys?! …:-)
.-= bob k´s last blog ..Tales from the Pit – Episode 2 – Heron There =-.

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Kelly October 5, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Oh…I loved this post. Turkeys fascinate me. I love it when I stumble across a family in the woods. They are always too fast to photograph it seems. I didn’t realize they had such mournful and beautiful eyes. Love that last photo…
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..Ann Arbor, Michigan…Hockey…and Sandhill Cranes! =-.

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Lynn October 6, 2009 at 12:33 pm

love seeing the pictures — i have loads of turkeys here — babies very cute (poults?) — and have seen mating rites going on which is very cool — they fluff up, fight, etc — have about 500 pictures — maybe i’ll figure out how to post some of them sometime

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Rottlady October 7, 2009 at 3:10 am

Thanks so much for this article, your pictures are wonderful. I love seeing turkeys in the wild

I’m going to share this with some friends.
.-= Rottlady´s last blog ..Where is the BC? =-.

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Thomas October 8, 2009 at 6:17 am

Beautiful series on wild Turkey, lovely captures and the last portrait is incredibly close Larry.
.-= Thomas´s last blog ..Long live the king of Indian wilderness =-.

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Lynn October 8, 2009 at 6:47 am

how do i put my turkey pictures on here? anyone help?

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Larry October 10, 2009 at 4:28 pm

@Neil thanks, I’ve been seeing them every day and every day they get more use to our presence

@Chris yeah it is great to live in a place that where we can still see lots of wild animals. Congrats on your one year (over) blogoversary!

@Bob the wild ones are much smarter than the Thanksgiving ones 😉

@Kelly they are definitely quick and boy can they fly!

@Lynn thanks for stopping by and the comment but I’m afraid you won’t be able to post photos on my blog. You should start your own though. It’s very easy to do. My advise is to host your own WordPress blog

@Rottlady thanks a bunch!

@Thomas thank you very much. I wonder what they would make of your king of the Indian wilderness?

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