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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Turkeys in the Morning

This mornining as I pulled into work, 15 wild turkeys were feeding in the field behind the office. As I got out my binoculars, the birds moved deeper into the tall vegetation. I tried to sneak up on the birds from behind a row of trees, but the birds were just too wary. Turkeys are notoriously alert and often resist approach. The birds slowly moved off and disappeared. Not a bad way to start the day.

In the early 1900s, after centuries of mostly unregulated hunting, there were only about 30,000 turkeys left in the wild. Today, thanks to the efforts of groups like the National Wild Turkey Federation, there are more than 6.4 million birds running around across the country. If it weren't for the effort of hunters, we might have lost these birds forever. However, as it is, these birds are increasingly taking their place in our yards, woods, and imaginations.

Another cool thing about hunters is that they pay closer attention to animal behavior than many birders do. As an example, here is a fascinating essay about how weather conditions may impact daily turkey movements. This morning was wet and drizzly, and as I write this, the wind is really blowing. Makes me wonder where the birds are now...hunkered down in a protected area in the woods? Could they sense how long this rainy spell will last and eat as much as they could in order to wait out the blustery weather? Turkeys, the stories they tell, and secrets they keep...another example of the mysterious world all around us.

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