Saturday, September 22, 2012

Let's talk turkey

Well, it’s official. Today is the first day of autumn.

Looking out the window of my Massachusetts home, I spot a bevy of wild turkeys under the clothesline in my neighbor’s yard. I run for the camera, quietly lift the screen and shoot, just before they scamper out of view.

A common sight in my neck of the woods, wild turkeys forage in our yards and in the nearby pine, maple and oak woods. They sometimes even visit the bird feeder. At night, they roost in our trees.

The four-foot male is dark brown, but the feathers look an iridescent coppery green at close range. His flight feathers are black with a band of white. His bare head is red and sometimes blue, while a black “beard” hangs from his chest. His legs are red.

Similar to the male, the female is about three-feet tall with a smaller head.

Wild turkeys once were abundant in these parts, but they were wiped out as forests were cleared. With the return of forests, they were reintroduced successfully.

Around here, we brake for turkeys. Why did the turkey cross the street? Because he’s back.

While I write this, I glance out the window and catch some turkeys pecking near another neighbor’s woodpile.

It is wonderful to have a window into their world, but at the same time I know it is hunting season; and Thanksgiving is just two months away. I always breathe a sigh of relief when they round up the little ones and return into the deep woods. The naked eye cannot follow their progress for long. Nature has equipped them with a coat of many colors that blends into their surroundings.

I spot another kind of forager at Seapowet, upriver from our summer house near Fogland Beach. Two women fill a plastic bag with their pickings, which look like periwinkles. Some men in waders are in the water digging for quahogs.

Interestingly, the beach is one place where we revert to our inner animal. We look for food, head down, scanning our habitat. We leave with pails of foodstuffs, pockets bulging, hands full.

Back at Fogland, I sit on the beach next to some seagulls. We have a bird’s-eye view of the gently soughing Sakonnet. We’re looking for the splash of smaller prey fleeing bluefish.

Birds of a feather flock together.

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