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Wild Turkey
Meleagris gallopavo

The first time I ever saw a wild turkey I was in my 20s visiting family in Tennessee. They were scattered in a field, and they were so big!! I had NO idea. I soon became obsessed. How was it that I had never seen one in Virginia or West Virginia until I was an adult?

And come no one told me how cool and beautiful they were?

Alright, let me tell you a pretty awesome Turkey Tale of Flirtation, Disappointment, and Romance: It was during the pandemic, and I was working from home. I have a lot of windows in my house, and something across the field caught my eye: TWO turkeys! I ran to get the binoculars so I could get a better look.

Ohhhh it was quickly evident it was a male and a female. The male was puffing up his feathers and showing off his tail and walking towards the female, who would look for a moment, and then kind of wander a little away. He kept trying, for about 10 minutes.

Eventually he gave up, turned, and quickly walked into the forest. One moment passed, she looked over her shoulder (wing?) to where he went, turned and high tailed it in the SAME direction! She was like, oh WAIT! You’re leaving?? WAIT I’m coming!! And she too disappeared into the forest.

The only thing that gives me pause about Wild Turkeys is that sometimes it feels like I’m competing with them for the succulent wild mushrooms that grow during the spring, like morels and chantrelles. Don’t you go steppin’ on my morel harvest, Mr. Gobble!

Alternate Name: Gobbler
Size: Males weigh 11 to 24 lb and measures 39–49 in in length. Females weight 5.5–11.9 lb and are 30 to 37 in long.
Family: Phasianidae
Habitat: Hardwood and mixed conifer-hardwood forests with scattered openings such as pastures, fields, orchards and seasonal marshes.
Identification: "very large, plump birds with long legs, wide, rounded tails, and a small head on a long, slim neck." From allaboutbirds.com  
All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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