Sunday, April 15, 2007

I love it here

A gray, rainy day. My husband calls on the cell phone.

"Look out the window. There's a turkey in the back yard!"

Meleagris gallopavo, eating clover.

I duck-walk below window level to grab the camera.

And spy this out the kitchen window:

Snowy Egret, Egretta thula.


This was the first time we'd seen only one turkey. Normally they're in flocks. It seemed awfully large for a female, and we wondered if it might be a first-year male. I'm not sure when they develop the red color on their heads or when they grow their beards. I couldn't find any info about that online, so if you know please feel free to instruct me!

The Snowy (a new yard bird for us) hung around the rest of the afternoon, foraging in the pond. In the past we've only seen them at the beach I think, so this was the first time we'd noticed foot-stirring behavior.

"Look at him, what in the world is he doing shuffling his feet like that?!" He'd take one foot, and move it ahead in the shallow water in a back and forth motion. Like he was stirring up the mud on the bottom.

Ah, YouTube to the rescue. There's a video of the behavior here. Our guy was moving much more slowly and deliberately though, and the behavior was more obvious since the water was so shallow.

From what I read online, that behavior is used to forage for crustaceans. In the time we watched, he didn't catch any of those, but did score one small fish and one rock (which he threw back).


robin andrea said...

You know you're living in the right place when you see those sights right out your window. Fantastic. Love that snowy egret. What a beauty.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Thanks so much for your visit and your lovely words about my pictures....

How amazing to see a Turkey in your yard and then a BEAUTIFUL Egret! Nature is so wonderful, isn't it? Loved seeing the pictures of your special visitors.

Anonymous said...


Really enjoyed the turkey photos.

My dad was a wildlife biologist who specialized in wild turkeys. So, I pulled one of his old books (The Wild Turkey and Its Management)off the shelf & found some info that might help.

According to the book, gobblers usually do not develop head adornments or beards until the second year. However, even younger males can be identified by black tipped contour feathers on the back and breast. Hens have brown or buff tipped contour feathers. Consequently, from a distance gobblers have a darker appearance.

kris said...

Cool photos - how fun to see them in your yard!

lime said...

wow, what a couple of lucky shots! you must either have a terrific telephoto lnes to get the turkey so clealry or you were very very lucky! they are such skittish things.

Unknown said...

How wonderful! I love the snowy egret--and the fat turkey, too. Great pictures of both. :)

Cathy said...

Egret - Turkey. Great contrast. Beauty and the Beast.

Anonymous said...

Your turkey looks like a hen to this occasional turkey hunter. If it was a young male turkey (Jake),it would have an two or three inch beard. Although , some hens do have small beards.
The flocks will disperse this time of year for nesting duties. There's a good chance this turkey has a nest close by and was only away for feeding purposes.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful and it is even better when you can do great birding right from your back yard!

Jochen said...

You might want to consider joining the next "I and the Bird" edition on my blog this week with this post?
I think it is great...

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to an excellent turkey identification web page you might want to look at:

meresy_g said...

I love snowy egrets. How exciting. I could watch them forever, but we also only see them at the beach. How cool that you have one hangning out.

Jochen said...

As you can see, I check your bog even before I check my emails ;))

Cutie said...

I've enjoyed my visit to your blog and will be back to check in!

Annie in Austin said...

A turkey and an egret in one day is pretty impressive, Rurality, but the event could have happened just about anytime in the past.

When you tell us about being notified by cellphone, and about researching avian behavior by YouTube, your story lands firmly in the now... what a thought provoking post!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Anonymous said...

Lovely Egret.

I've been having tons of Band-Tailed Pigeons visit me and bringing all their friends. (12 at once). It was quite exciting.

R.Powers said...

When I was a Ranger at Castillo De San Marcos National Monument, the moat still contained water and the egrets constantly did the shuffle thing to any bit of seaweed or debris.
I think it's a fish catching thing too, much more than a crusacean catching behavior.

James Cooper said...

I've wondered through many a Thanksgiving dinner what wild turkey (the bird, not the beverage) is like. Not exactly a common menu item out here, though I don't know if it is exactly common on menus anywhere. Is it something worth trying, at least the once?

Rurality said...

Thanks everybody!

Robin Andrea, yep it's definitely not a sight we'd have seen at our old house.

OldOldLady (it seems so rude to call you that!), thanks, it was cool to have them both at once.

Anonymous #1, thanks for that info. I wish I could have gotten some better pics to examine those contour feathers better!

Kris, yeah to have them both simultaneously was really a treat. There was also a Great Blue Heron in the pond at the same time but I didn't get a pic of him - he left too soon. (He visits a lot.)

Lime I've been bemonaing my camera lately since it's old and has been acting up terribly. So it was happy to have a little praise. :)

BlackswampGirl, yeah he or she doesn't seem to have missed too many meals, huh? :)

Cathy, yeah, except I think they're both beautiful in their own way! The turkey is definitely funnier at times.

Anonymous #2, I hadn't thought about the nest idea. I doubt it would have nested too close though because the dog is in that area most of the time. Hmm.

Tom, yes it's great for lazy birders LOL.

Jochen, as you discovered, I already did! Hee.

Thanks Hal, that was a really interesting article. I'm leaning towards thinking this was just a really large female.

Meredith, I hoped he'd stay another day, but alas, no. Had to migrate on I guess.

DeltaRebel, thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

Annie, I hadn't thought about it that way! It's funny but cells really are useful for things like that... If hubby had walked through the yard to let me know, he'd have scared off the turkey for sure.

Karmyn, I've never seen one of those! Cool.

FC, I did read that they'd been observed doing that behavior in long grass too. So maybe it's a multi-purpose technique. I was a little surprised at how often he missed when going for prey.

JC, my cousins were turkey hunters and I've had it once. It tasted more or less like regular turkey, only a little more gamey. Nowdays smaller producers are raising more of the heritage breeds, which gives you the advantage of a turkey with some actual taste, but that's not gamey.

lisa said...

Isn't wildlife great? That's my favorite part of living up here, too...way more wildlife that I used to see in Indiana when I was a kid.

karrie said...

Strangely enough, there is a wild turkey who makes his home in the middle of Cambridge,MA. (I saw him a few days ago while dropping off my husband at work.)

Mr. Gobbles