Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another Broken Red-tail Beak and TURKEYS!

Photograph by Francois Portmann,

With the Riverside formel having a broken beak, Francois remembered that back in January, 2008, he'd taken a photograph of a brown-tail with a broken beak on a roof downtown. He went into his archives and came up with it. This hawk's beak seems to have lost only the tip. Though it would impair tearing at least this bird should have the ability to pinch food between the front edges of the maxilla and mandible and pull.

There has been some conversation, as John Blakeman had never seen an example in the Midwest, as to whether or not this beak breaking problem may well be far more of an urban hawk issue then it was elsewhere.

The only example I've seen here in Wisconsin was that of an immature Bald Eagle who had lead poisoning and not being lucid had flown straight into a sign. Somehow I don't think that counts.

I suspect that far more beaks are broken in a mix of gusty wind and hard buildings within the urban environment, particularly in adults, than hawks running into say, trees, here.

Urban fledglings on the other hand, would certainly be at higher risk for the accident. Being novice fliers, they might just loose control
periodically and be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Photograph by James Blank
This turkey is a bit like the turkeys in the parks of New York City. She lives at Old World Wisconsin, and is habituated to humans. She doesn't have to worry a bit about hunters or much of anything else as long as she stays within the fences of the reenactment farmsteads.

These turkeys on the other hand aren't habituated to humans. Mr. Blank, the Wisconsin photographer, called to let me know there was a large flock of turkeys just standing around in a big open field out in the country, foraging. Excellent, I started pulling on my boots. Now getting there was another matter--this involved complicated directions (at least complicated to me) and snow covered country roads. But I got there!

At that point the 16 turkeys were standing behind a hedgerow of brush. Not as good perhaps as being completely in the open but these were much closer to the road, than the usual flocks I run across. I pulled over, got the camera and then made my big mistake.

What did I do?

I turned off the engine of the truck. Oh yeah. I hadn't realized that turkeys are particularly cued to running or not running engines. 16 heads went up, and the turkey trot for the trees began.

The four in the photo above were the end of the line merging

into this group, some of whom had already made it into the trees.



Oops, there are still a few trotting through the depression behind the hedgerow.


Donegal Browne

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