Monday, August 18, 2008

Wild vs Urban Turkeys

Photograph by Bob McCargar
Mattie on the right has her eye fixed on something tasty that's moving. I've a feeling that Esmerelda on the left is the current sentinel. Though not the sentinel of the day as is the case with some parrot species. Turkeys take turns moment to moment

Contributer Bob McCargar was just walking down a city street, minding his own business when suddenly what should he spy but two turkeys on the sidewalk. Here's what he saw--

"I photographed these Turkeys in a south Berkeley, CA neighborhood, about a mile south of the UC Campus. They were just sauntering down the sidewalk as if they were out for an afternoon stroll. They turned the corner and walked up the next block, following the sidewalk, seemingly unconcerned by my presence, but I didn't push my luck trying to get closer to them than 20 feet or so."

Once again we see what a gift urban wildlife is for us humans. We don't have to shoot them, or chase them down in order to get a good look at them. All we really have to do is to be reasonably polite. They are then willing to be reasonably polite back and allow us to gawk and take photographs without mentioning what boobies we are.

I do wonder how two big birds like that find enough to eat walking down the sidewalk. Though I do suppose there is a green space in which they spend time eating seeds, greens, and insects. Or they've developed a circuit, using the sidewalks, of visiting backyard feeders and back doors whose owners give handouts.

Here are the two Tom Turkeys, I saw today. You can tell by the quality of the photographs that I was more like 200 yards away from them, rather than 20 feet. Now keep in mind I'm that far away, and I don't even dare get out of my car. Still, George there on the right, has noticed and isn't the least bit happy about my presence.

While inattentive Tyler is scarfing down the fallen wheat from the harvested field, George is thinking very seriously about fleeing,

How do I know they're Tom Turkeys? They have beards. No, they don't have "beards" on their chins, they have feather "beards" coming out of the middle of their upper chests.

Don't ask, nowhere can I find anyone who's figured out why beyond it's a cue for maleness. Though it isn't unheard of for a very mature female to develop a chest beard too.

George heads for the woods, and Tyler looks up. Huh! Where's he going? (Note, you can see both their beards hanging from their chests. Boy I can't help but think they look alot like dinosaurs in this shot.)

It looks like Tyler goes over and attempts to get George to stay
That proving ineffective, Tyler comes back into the sun and seems to be preening.

Either that or Tyler has forgotten George is a boy, and is hoping a little tail display might be just the ticket to get George to come back. Then, Tyler looks up and stares in my direction. Does he need glasses? Has he just seen me?

The wheels turn...slowly. Tyler walks right, south, and seems to be thinking about the situation.

Either he's decided I'm okay, or perhaps more likely in Tyler's situation, he's just plum forgot I was there.

Donegal Browne

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