There’s a story here…but we have to start at the beginning.
Tom Turkey struts his stuff in the backyard on a daily basis, morning and evening. This time there were three hens ignoring him, unlike the other day. He is quite a big bird, at least twice the size of the hens.
Suddenly just at sunset, the three hens perked up their heads, cackled to each other in turkey talk, and one by one in a burst of wing flapping, they flew off into the trees at the back of the yard. I could hear them crashing and thrashing about back there as they settled on a branch.
I finally found one of the hens — about 80 feet up in a giant cottonwood on a nice horizontal branch. She paced back ad forth trying to find just the right spot to settle down for the night.
But that left Tom with his deflated feathers alone in the backyard. While I was photographing the hen, I heard heavy wing flapping and foot scrambling on the neighbor’s roof.
What was he doing up there — looking around the neighborhood?
He bobbed his head up and down, paced back and forth on the roof, and suddenly took off.
A burst of flapping carried him just high enough to land on a thick horizontal branch about 50 feet off the ground.
So, apparently, Tom Turkey is so heavy he has to get to his roost in stages, using the neighbor’s roof as a launching platform to get to a high enough branch.
After trying out a few spots on the branch, he finally found the perfect spot for the night.
These spots were typical turkey roosts: tall, mature trees, with at least one large horizontal branch high off the ground. The best trees for turkey roosting spots have 30-50 feet of bare trunk below the first branches to foil predators, and are on the east or northeast facing slopes so the birds can warm themselves in the early morning sunlight. There are plenty of oaks in the backyard that meet turkey criteria for roost sites.