Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte and Making Decisions About Home for a Turkey

Photograph by Brett Odom

Hurray! Brett Odom, main watcher of Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte, has documented that the Central Park South hawks may be back in the breeding business for the season. Here's his note--

Hey Donna.

I finally managed to get a photo of Junior today. Unfortunately, I only had my 135mm lens and no tripod so it is not a very clear photo. Actually Charlotte is also in the photo behind the glass to his right. She is being dissected by the strip between the two glass panes. Her head is behind the left pane and her tail is behind the right pane. You cannot see her head because she has dipped it into the bowl of the nest, but you can just barely make out the tail.


Fingers crossed for this nest's success too!

Photograph by Eleanor Tauber

From Karen of Rhode Island, concerning the directive from the DEC concerning the Central Park Turkey that gave scant choice of either releasing CP to Pelham Park or euthanasia, without an option to release her back to the environment in which she had lived and chosen for herself--

What is with the "Department of Environmental Conservation" blathering about euthanasia? Who are these people? This doesn't sound like conservation to me, more like people who have no clue about animals.

The DEC does have euthanasia rules concerning wildlife that is not fit enough to be released. The rules state that an unreleaseable animal must be euthanized unless it becomes an animal used by a licensed wildlife educator to educate the public or can aid in the rehabilitation of others of its species i.e. a mom raptor with a bad wing can still feed orphaned eyasses very nicely thank you. But this is the first I’ve heard of an ultimatum that insists an originally healthy animal must be put down rather than return the animal to the location where it was mistakenly nabbed in the first place. It sounds rather draconian that the only other DEC acceptable option is to place the healthy kidnapped turkey in a park where there is an established flock of other turkeys who have no relationship with the releasee.

I’m told by a local poultry farmer that when it comes to groups of “poultry” one never knows if the new bird in town will be accepted, shunned, injured by the others, or even killed, particularly if it is a male. I’ve not seen the CP Turkey in the flesh, but I was told originally that he was a Tom.

What about a concern that perhaps CP was lonely being the only one of it’s kind in Central Park? If that were the concern, an answer could have been to put CP back in the park with a couple of other stranger hen turkeys.

It is almost as if the animal is being punished because there is tension amongst the people involved. Just doesn’t seem right somehow, does it? That would take care of the lonely factor and give park visitors more turkeys to look at, and come spring baby turkeys and wouldn’t all that be really cool.

Not only am I concerned for CP but also about the visitors to the park who could use a WOW moment to wake them up. Like Pale Male or any of the larger very noticeable birds in Central Park, they are just terrific tools to get city dwellers, of which Central Park has a very high density, to actually look for wildlife when in the park. Think about it. You’re walking down the path absorbed in talking to your friend about the latest movie, when the path curves and WHOA!!! What is that??? That is a huge, naked headed BIRD with humongous feet!

Some people are completely transformed by moments like that and finally realize, and know in a visceral way that there are creatures in the wild who are really worth more than another subdivision.

On the other hand, perhaps the DEC was concerned that if someone could grab the CP Turkey for benevolent if mistaken motives, someone else might grab CP Turkey for nefarious reasons. But if that were the fear why might not some Bad Egg grab CP Turkey in Pelham Park, flock or no?

In my experience with turkey flocks in Wisconsin, a hen will stand her ground and fight if cornered to protect her poults but when it comes to mature members of the flock, it’s every bird for himself when it comes to external danger. Besides if the thought is that CP is too tame for his own good, due to soliciting snacks at close quarters, would it not be possible that CP will just keep doing it at Pelham and by example teach the Pelham Turkeys to put themselves into the same dangers? Though I suspect that the Pelham Park Turkeys are completely aware of how to get the goodies themselves.

It would be easier to take if we knew the reasons why…and perhaps then we'd agree?

CP Turkey did choose for himself, without coercion, to live in Central Park after all.

Donegal Browne

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