Turkey Tales - Repost of an old blog.
Thursday, January 28, 2021
(I have an endless supply of animal trivia and adventures.)
My husband was a State Game Warden in Texas. Besides everything you think you know about game wardens anywhere, I can tell you that people bring them every animal, bird, fish, etc. that they find.
We raised and rehabilitated everything from fawns to owls. The county road crew could be counted on to bring us something every spring, when they began mowing the roadsides and ditches and/or widening roads and cutting trees.
One year they brought us six wild turkey eggs. They found them in a ditch while mowing, some were broken, but six survived, whole. So we incubated them, hatched them and raised them. I use the word “we” loosely. Guess who was Momma Bird? Lol.
Raising those turkey chicks was a beautiful experience. First thing I discovered is that those turkey Toms (male turkeys) who grow up to have long beautiful beards and big boastful chests they like to thrust out while they “strut” around and show off, are born KNOWING what they are!
I discovered that three of my six turkey chicks were males on about the 5th or 6th day after hatching. They were prancing around their little cage, tiny fuzzy chests stuck out and little teeny wings arched, doing the typical turkey strut! Each wing had begun to grow one tiny feather, lol, but these little boys KNEW they were proud Turkey Toms and boasted of it before they were a week old!
No room here to tell you of all the wonderful escapades I had with these turkeys. Showing them where to roost each night - I’d go out about sunset and they would follow me to whatever tree I chose. I’d point each one of them to a tree limb and up they’d fly, settle down for the night in a high, safe spot. My only problem was teaching them NOT to jump down and follow me back to the house. I guess they wondered why Moma Bird didn’t roost with them, lol.
I took a walk around our property each evening and was followed by six wild turkeys and one 18 pound yellow, long-haired tomcat, Mikey. (See? That story about the Pied Piper leading all the mice could be true!) Mikey had to be carried about half way through the walk, but the turkeys went all the way.
As we did with all the wild animals we raised, eventually we found them all a foster home on some ranch where they could live and reproduce, happily ever after. All but one, which became such a pet I named her Sweet Pea and she stayed with us.
She was a great watch dog! She let us know every time someone drove up our long winding drive. And if they looked too aggressive when they got out of the car, they might be attacked by a wild turkey, lol.
When I sat on the patio, she would come up beside me and “preen” my arms! Sometimes she’d pull on the hair on my arms; sometimes she’d try hard to pick off a freckle or a mole, lol.
Whenever we were outside on our little hillside estate, she’d be right there with us. This continued after all the other turkeys had been moved to a large ranch where the rancher would look after them and was thrilled to have them restock his ranch.
One day my husband and I were working outside. He was up near the front gate, which was still about 1/5 mile from the road. I was on the patio. Sweet Pea had laid a clutch of eggs at the base of a small oak tree near the gate. Suddenly she was flapping her wings, making all sorts of turkey noises, and flying up and down in the same spot, making a real commotion. My husband was nearby and ran over to see what was wrong. He found a chicken snake trying to escape Sweet Pea’s wrath!
He killed the snake and then went to look at the eggs. One of the eggs was cracked because the snake tried to swallow it. He tried to take it from the nest so it wouldn’t rot, but Sweet Pea wouldn’t let him near it. So he walked off and went back to cutting brush.
Just a minute later, I witnessed the most incredible thing. Sweet Pea was flying to me, just about a foot off the ground, making a straight line from her nest to the patio where I was standing. She landed right in front of me and put her broken but still whole turkey egg on the ground at my feet. (To this day, I do NOT know how she carried that egg in her beak! I only know what I saw.)
With tears in my eyes, I reached out to pet her and she stood there for a while, murmuring sweet little turkey talk to me as I stroked her and we both looked at the fatally wounded egg. Then she flew back to her nest.
This was the most precious moment I ever experienced in all my wonderful times with animals. One mother to another.