Turkeys in Flight

After monitoring and photographing two flocks of wild turkeys for a week or so, I was able to tell their story in my last post. I was satisfied and was ready to move on. The only images that I lacked were birds in flight, but I dismissed the idea. Turkeys are more apt to walk or run than fly (unless harassed), and it’s unethical to disturb wildlife during the stressful winter season.

Then, yesterday morning happened. I decided to take the back roads into town, mainly to see how wild turkeys were responding to a 19 degree (F) day with 20 mph winds blasting powdery snow across open fields. I didn’t expect to see anything, but instinctively grabbed the camera and adjusted the settings for speed and snow. The definition of insanity?

I found a couple of birds in the corn stubble on high ground, moving toward the lee side of a hill. I didn’t realize what was happening until I pulled over and shut the truck off to get a better look. A flock had left the roost and walked into dense vegetation in a gully near the road. They were now flying across the road, a few at a time, a hundred feet in front of me.

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The last bird to cross afforded me an opportunity to capture the complete process of a big, heavy bird, flying at perhaps 30 or 40 mph, coming in for a “soft” landing. Enjoy!

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And that’s how it’s done! Questions???

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

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Wild Turkeys in Early Winter

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In the snow belt of the North, agricultural lands provide critical winter habitat for wild turkeys. Not just any corn field or weedy fence row will do however. These large birds  – one of the largest in North America – also need spacious areas with a mixture of grain fields; mature woodlands; large evergreen cover and sheltered, southern exposures. Fields with spread cow manure are a welcome addition to the mix too.

With only a few inches of snow on the ground, our turkeys are unimpeded in their search for concentrated food sources. Flocks ranging from a few birds to 50 or more are often seen in the middle of the day walking, talking and “scratching” across farm fields.

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Waste grain in harvested corn fields is a staple (fortunately, the geese didn’t consume all of it in the fall).

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Bursts of “lake effect” snow often trigger intense feeding. Accumulating snow could eliminate this high energy food source in a matter of hours – and the birds know that.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.