Monday, April 2, 2012

The Neighborhood Turkeys

Strutting tom turkey
(c) John AshleyLet me just say that some of my neighbors are real turkeys. And I mean that in the nicest way.

Our neighbor, Tom, will be raising a racket for the next month or so until the females slip away to hide in the woods while incubating Tom's offspring. This is the best time of the year to admire Tom's set of 5,000 to 6,000 feathers, which he is constantly showing off. This studly display seems to offset the fact that he is pretty much completely bald.

Tom's bald head and neck areas feature a fleshy snood (a flap of skin that hangs down over his nose), a wattle (a flap of skin under his throat) and caruncles (several large lumps on his neck). Depending on how excited he is, Tom can change his fleshy baldness from red to white to blue. This apparently impresses the hens, who respond by mostly ignoring Tom and continuing to eat.

I saw a fascnating Nature video recently about a man who adopted a clutch of 16 wild turkey eggs. He ended up having to spend all day every day with is new neighbors. The video's called, "My Life as a Turkey." You might think this would be hard on the man, but he seemed to thoroughly enjoy it instead, and now he has taken to living full time with a herd of mule deer.

I am so envious....
Female turkeys ignore a strutting male
(c) John Ashley