Over the last few months, neighbors and dog walkers have been sharing their stories of spotting the ‘resident’ female turkey that’s presently making the rounds in our Lake Park neighborhood. I first saw her in the park and she seemed quite unalarmed by my dogs. My English Pointer went right to a point, holding it steady and firm, but the Turkey just strolled along, looking for insects in the grass. Then there was another few sightings on adjacent streets until yesterday morning, when I spied my neighbor Dave, crouched down by a tree with a familiar object in his hand – his camera.
I ran inside for my 70-200mm f 2.8 lens, slammed in a fresh card and out I went ‘turkey hunting’. Preferring to be unobtrusive and wanting to stay outside her amazingly small circle of safety, where animals will alarm and flee, I positioned myself in front of a parked car and went to work in high-speed continuous mode. (Former digital photo class members should recognize this setting!)
Curious to know what they eat, I googled it and found that they like insects, grasshoppers, small frogs, crickets, etc. Basically things that hang around in grassy meadows or wood’s edges. Seems as thought she’s getting plenty to eat! The neighborhood talk suggests that we’ve adopted her as a permanent resident. “I hope she doesn’t get hit by a car,” said more than one neighbor. We’re concerned for her safety from the resident red fox, as well. Although I did read that they fly up very quickly and I vividly recall a personal experience with that once, when I was running in the Kettle Moraine Forest – North Unit on the Ice Age Trail.
My dog at that time, Murphy, was part border collie and was good for 18 miles with me on the trails. We ran up a short, but steep hill on the forest trail and couldn’t see what was on top. As we crested the trail, we were met with a cacophony of beating wings as a flock of turkeys forcefully left the pull of gravity and headed for the safety of the trees. Murphy and I, scared by the sudden noise and movement, reflexively hit the forest floor in record time! He on his belly and I on my knees. In milliseconds, when you collect yourself and you’ve figured out what it was that happened, I turned and looked at Murphy. He looked back at me with white eyes showing and I burst out laughing. Relieved that it was nothing life threatening and looking back at our primitive, fight or flight response. We dusted ourselves off and continued on the run, thankful for that funny, memorable moment on a Wisconsin hiking trail.
If you’re in the neighborhood during the day, please drive slowly. You never know if you’ll see our resident turkey. Shall we name her? If so, what would you call her? No, we won’t be calling her to dinner but no doubt she’ll have a few Thanksgiving jokes tossed her way. For more info on wild turkeys, go here.