Thursday, July 5, 2012

Old Girl

Wild turkeys can live 10-13 years

An old hen appeared in my yard a few days ago, seemingly out of nowhere.  She looked very sick and I was afraid a fox or other predator might get her during the night. I did not expect to see her again.  But the next morning, there she was, waiting for me to put seed down for the songbirds.  Although she had refused thistle and bits of bread the evening before, she ate millet with gusto and looked much better. 

She has stayed on and I've had many opportunities to observe her.  If she was sick, she isn't now. She's just old.  In fact, I think she is the matriarch of the family raising their poults here.

Old Girl shows mild interest in the poults but she's been too tired to do more.  Wild turkeys are only active during the day (diurnal) and since she arrived Old Girl has spent most of her days sleeping, closing her eyes to doze off every chance she gets.  In between she scratches for seed, drinks a lot of water, hunts for insects, preens and suns herself in the garden.  All she really wants is peace and quiet.

She seems to know that I want to help her.  I speak softly to her and she watches intently as I clean the birdbaths and fill them with fresh water.  I worked non stop in the garden for several hours today and she hung out with me the whole time.

Wild turkeys are highly intelligent birds with amazing memories and have been known to return to an exact location even after many years have passed.  I think the reason Old Girl is so comfortable around me is because she probably grew up here and remembers me well. Few people know that wild turkeys remember faces and voices and can distinguish colors. They see at least ten times better than people and their range of vision is almost 360 degrees.

If home is the place you go to feel safe and protected, then I understand why Old Girl has come back to find shelter here.  In fact, Old Girl looks better every day. Perhaps she just needed a good rest. I think she has a lot more living to do.   Click on the photos for the best views. 

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