Wild Turkey

by Diann
(July 11th):

As late afternoon shaded into longer shadows, I rested up for the evening's endeavors. Outside my window, in the driveway, noise suddenly arose. Noise I couldn't place. It wasn't the neighbors, starting or stopping their cars. It wasn't a radio with supersonic sub woofers cruising the backroads at 150 miles per hour. It wasn't the normal sounds of birds, tree frogs, crickets, confused 17-year locusts, or cats pretending to be in heat. And it was in my driveway. As in, close.

The sound was a patternless thing, almost as if something were choking. I couldn't place it at all. So, I bestirred myself, considered 911, and looked out the window.

A tremendous bird walked back and forth, behind my car. Elongated neck, gawky mein. Mostly hues of brown with a touch of gray. It dwarfed out those ubiquitous Canada geese that one sees in Connecticut.

Suddenly, I realized what I had here. A wild turkey. They've been making a comeback in the region; others had mentioned seen them around. Now, it was my turn, and in my own yard, no less.

This, of course, was a Kodak Moment (TM), as the turkey kept, well, gobbling, in the general direction of the trees. I got the camera, and took a picture or two through the window. It kept walking into the shadows as I steadied the camera, of course.

Suddenly, from one of the trees, down flew a smaller bird. About cat-sized, I'd say, but entirely of rounder shape. It came to a halt next to the turkey. They didn't look remarkably alike. The turkey didn't seem remotely disturbed, and indeed it started walking onto the lawn. The little one followed.

All the while, this bird continued making a ruckus, gobble gobble, gobble. And, one by one, three more little birds galumped out of the trees, down to the driveway, into formation around their mother. (Ah-hah! The dimly lit lightbulb glows!) Mom stopped gurgle-clucking as her four little gobblets gathered 'round.

And then, boldly, she walked across my front lawn, in the meandering pathway of a drunk, starting and stopping, and occasionally looking towards where I was perched in the house, attempting more photographs in quite inadequate conditions. They got skittish when I attempted the door, so I remained a prisoner in the house, firing at birds who uncannily avoided bright sunlight anywhere where I had a good shooting angle. So, we'll see.

They say turkeys are dumb birds, but perhaps wild ones haven't had whatever it takes bred out of them. Certainly, the mother was awkward and clumsy, and as the younguns grew, they were likely to do a reverse on the "Ugly Duckling" story, to grow up to be truly ungainly adults themselves. But then again, in turkey eyes, beauty is likely something else again entirely. And, as she waddled and looked after her charges, I too could catch that beauty. I think I prefer her to the standard blandness of the swan, any day.

True Family Values in action. She was concerned for her little ones, whether by instinct or by intelligence makes no difference. They walked and waddled and wandered, occasionally pecking at random spots in the lawn.

At the end, they disappeared into the jewelweed, having presented me with a wonderfully unexpected and well-needed diversion.

(If any of the photos turn out -- I guess I took 4 or 5 -- I will upload the best. And I heard arrhythmic gurgle-clucking in the underbrush last night. So maybe I'll see them again.)

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Last Updated: Saturday, August 10, 1996, with the final note that the sounds of July 12th was the last I've heard of them. Tropical Storm Bertha must have washed them away.