I spied a tom turkey showing off for a couple of hens about 10 feet from the house in the backyard the other day; in fact, he was so close I couldn’t really get a good shot of him.

wild turkey displays-

All puffed out, but not gobbling, Mr. Tom tries to get the attention of the two hens under the bird feeders.  

So I went out the front door and crept around to the back yard for a better shot of him, but then I happened to glance over to the neighbor’s yard, and saw there was competition from a much bigger Tom.

wild turkey displays-

Mr. Tom #2 was performing with much greater enthusiasm, and had far better looking feathers.

Whoa,  Mr. Tom #1 was totally outclassed, upstaged, eclipsed, whatever you want to call it.  Mr. Tom #2 was a stud!  And four more hens were over there with him admiring the show as he strutted around.

wild turkey displays

Mr. Tom #1 is not really ready for prime-time. Those tail feathers have become very bedraggled looking.  Could he have lost or broken them in a tussle with Mr. Tom #2?  Do male turkeys tussle?

wild turkey displays

Mr. Tom #2 struts his stuff, turning slightly to show off his fan-tail to each hen as she wandered over next to him. The morning light was too dim to catch the gorgeous iridescence in his feathers.

wild turkey displays

“Come on over, ladies, and check me out…”

Soon, the hens from my yard joined the rest of the group, and even Tom #1 bowed in respect to “the dude” and moved on into the forest to join the rest of the tribe.  He was really no competition, with his beat-up feathers, incompletely fanned out tail, and missing beard.  Better luck next year, Mr. Tom.

wild turkey displays

Giving up his attempt to show off, Mr. Tom #1 lowers his back and tail feathers and slinks off into the woods.

Happy Earth Day

In celebration of Earth Day, I embraced the cold air and warm sunshine, and tried to commune with nature by taking a long walk in the woods.  I saw Brown Creepers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and Black-capped Chickadees, none of which I photographed because I have lost my quick trigger finger for fast-moving birds.  So I took photos of these slower-moving turkeys instead.

pair of tom turkeys

the bachelors, happy to hang out together while looking for good things to eat — and perhaps a female or two…

pair of tom turkeys

Unlike most wild turkeys that run from me when I see them in my backyard, these big Toms nonchalantly strolled through the woods foraging.

wild turkey male-

And they were happy to pose and to gobble every now and then.  They really are very beautiful birds in the sunlight — if you just ignore the teeny weeny bare head and those red lumps of flesh dangling from the neck.

wild turkey male displaying-

Same male as above — he’s just making sure I noticed him.

wild turkey male

They are more uncomfortable out in the open in the grassland, and both made a beeline for the woods on the other side of this field.

No wonder Benjamin Franklin wanted to make them our national bird.