What’s for dinner?

turkey drinking at the bird bath

What?....Me?

What?….Me?

I'm much too pretty to eat.

I’m much too pretty to eat.

Happy Thanksgiving…may your day be filled with pleasant smells and memories.

Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often. ~Johnny Carson

the beauty prize goes to…

me, me, me!

ME, ME, ME!  ta-dah!

Strutting, posing, gobbling, fluffing, more strutting, this magnificent tom made his way across the yard to the bird feeder and spent most of the morning and a lot of the afternoon there.  A few of his many poses to show off his colors.

There were no hens present, so he didn't do the full tail up, wings down display.

There were no hens present, so he didn’t do the full tail up, wings down display.

How many colors do you see?

How many colors do you see?

Wattles on the neck become engorged with blood when the bird is "excited" and turn bright red.

Wattles on the neck become engorged with blood when the bird is “excited” and turn bright red.

That little appendage above the beak is called a snood.  It turns bright blue when the turkey is sexually excited, and bright red when it is ready to fight.

That little appendage above the beak is called a snood. It turns bright blue when the turkey is sexually excited, and bright red when it is ready to fight.  Sometimes it hangs  down loosely flopping over the bill (must get in the way when he pecks at food on the ground!).

Little appreciated factoids about one of our national treasures:

  • Turkeys really can fly!  Fast, in fact, up to 60 mph for a short 1/4 mile stretch.  This is an even more impressive feat when you consider that wild males can weigh over 10 kg (more than 20 pounds) but have a meager wingspan of just over 1 meter (around 4 feet).   Compared with a Great Blue Heron, which has roughly the same wingspan, but 1/10 the body weight, turkeys are flying tanks!
  • Why is this bird called a turkey, instead of the Great Breasted Iridescent Pheasant?  Blame it on the British, who were confused about where they were getting their game birds.  British imports coming from both Asia and the Americas once went through Istanbul (Constantinople, then).  The British simply called the birds by the name of their import origin — Turkey, and the name stuck.

Turkey invasion

When turkeys around here flock up in the fall, they gather in large numbers.  We didn’t have much of an acorn crop from the oaks this year, but that hasn’t stopped the turkeys from looking under the leaves at the edge of the backyard.

I counted 22 of them, mostly hens and young of the year, with at least one very large tom, who stood apart from the group looking very wary.

Mr. Tom was enticed over to the bird feeder, where seed had fallen among the wildflower remnants.  His head was such a pale comparison to the bright red and blue of the breeding male I photographed earlier in the summer.

Male photographed in April 2012 (see earlier post here).

I tried to sneak up on a few of them, but they quickly strolled away, after giving me the once over.