Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Turkey time

Spring brings out the wild turkeys as the males lure potential mates with vivid displays of tail and wing feathers and puffed out breasts. Generally the females seem indifferent. Yet to hear the males gobbling as day dawns, to see their iridescent heads and feathers, is an awesome experience. Unlike domestic turkeys who generally are satirized as being stupid, wild turkeys have acute hearing and vision. They are easily spooked, so positioning oneself for either photography or hunting must be done carefully. They can run up to 25 miles and hour and fly at speeds that approach 45 mph.

You may recall that Benjamin Franklin strongly backed the turkey as the national bird. It was a favorite food of native Americans, as well as the earlier settlers. However, their numbers plummeted over the centuries. They have been reintroduced into areas where their numbers were marginal, and planted in areas where they had not lived earlier. They are quite adaptable and are thriving across the mainland US, as well as Hawaii, and also New Zealand.

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