Wow, That’s a Turkey

I’m not sure why calling something a “turkey” is an expression of disdain. Turkeys are actually pretty impressive: smart, well-camouflaged (stealthy like an F-35!) weather-resistant, reliable.

As I was brewing my morning coffee I looked out the back window at the deer and saw something big and black up on the edge of the woods-line. “Ooh, a bear!” I thought. I ran to the other room and checked the batteries on the drone – dead, unfortunately. So I went upstairs and grabbed the binoculars to get a better look.

It’s the biggest turkey I’ve ever seen.

This picture is included so you can get a sense of scale of the fellow, from 175 meters or so away.

I don’t have any long-range camera accessories since I prefer to fly a camera right over to my target, but I tried to photograph through the binoculars with my iPhone. That did not work, unfortunately.

Here’s what the picture above looks like in native resolution:

He was out there diligently strutting his stuff, like a mid-40’s guy in a Corvette convertible with the top down, age-inappropriate jogging clothes on, and one of those 80’s gold horns on a chain around his neck. “Hey baby, hey baby.”

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Yesterday was a day of some excitement for me, but I can’t explain it without explaining the back-story. I’ll see what I can do there over the next couple of days.


  1. fusilier says

    _Wild_ turkeys are incredibly smart. They know just exactly what range your flintlock smoothbore is accurate to, and stay 10 yards further away.

    Domesticated turkeys, OTOH….


    James 2:24

  2. kestrel says

    I think you have Eastern wild turkeys there, and yes they are really big. I raised some, once… they got big enough I was scared to go in their aviary to feed them. It didn’t help that the tom would walk up and menace me whenever I showed up; he couldn’t quite look me in the eye but he did his level best. I sold them to someone who was absolutely smitten with them and they lived as his dear pets to the end of their really pretty long lives. It helped that he was much taller than I am.

  3. springa73 says

    Wild turkeys are impressively large birds – it’s hard to believe that they can still fly (though only for short distances). The one thing that didn’t show up in your photo, probably because of distance and angle, is how brilliantly red the skin on the toms’ throats can get when they are strutting around looking for mates.

  4. says

    _Wild_ turkeys are incredibly smart. They know just exactly what range your flintlock smoothbore is accurate to, and stay 10 yards further away.

    About 10 years ago, my buddy Paul R. came up with his camera to do some nature photos. We had a fine winter adventure driving around the woods near Pottersdale. We found a beaver dam and had a good visit with the beavers, and then we encountered a flock of turkeys. They had incredible stealth capability: they wouldn’t panic and flap and try to get away, they just turned and casually walked toward somewhere else. And as soon as you broke sight-lock with them, they were gone. Poor Paul kept trying to sneak up on the turkeys and they’d smell him a mile off and start casually walking away.

  5. says

    Birds can go all velociraptor on you when you threaten their dames. It’s quite an experience. I got my ass whupped by a rooster once and it was not funny. (hint to young boys: maybe you can imitate a cock’s crowing really well, but if you’re near the cock he’s not going to treat it as an imitation – you’ve just thrown down the glove and challenged him to mortal combat)

  6. Dunc says

    I got my ass whupped by a rooster once and it was not funny.

    Not funny for you, perhaps. I’m pretty sure anybody else in the vicinity would have found it hilarious.

  7. lochaber says

    I keep hearing how turkeys are smart, and…
    I guess the turkeys out here are different?

    There are a bunch of them up in the Berkeley/Oakland hills, and they are noisy and dumb. I once accidentally trapped one whilst jogging on a sidewalk in the hills. It was about six feet from me, looked at me, and then tried to run through a fence it could only fit it’s head/neck through. It backed out, looked at me, and then tried the fence again. I had stopped jogging, and just stood there and watched it repeat this cycle about three times before it figured out to turn around and run away from me.

    A couple years back, there was one just hanging out in an intersection in downtown Oakland. Backed up traffic a couple blocks in several directions, because people were trying not to run it over.

    maybe it’s due to lack of predation?

  8. voyager says

    My husband worked at a golf course years ago and one day when he was out in his cart an ostrich ran up beside him heading towards a busy highway. He tried to get in front of it to turn it in a different direction, but the ostrich was faster than his cart. He finally lost sight of it in the woods just beside the highway. He never did find out what happened to the poor thing, but it must have escaped from a local farm because ostriches are sure not native to Ontario.

  9. Onamission5 says

    One of our cats discovered how fierce female turkeys are when he tried to sneak up on a fledgling in a group of hens taking their babies out for a walk. Cue mama’s rattlesnake quick strike at his head, cat pedaling backwards mid-leap, then running indoors and refusing to leave the house for three straight days. “Oh shit, those little birds belong to those big birds? Those big birds are mean!”

    Toms, on the other hand, might be fierce but seem not to be terribly fond of using the brains they were born with. My last encounter with one was him attacking cars as we tried to drive past him on the road.

  10. fusilier says


    Remember what I said about domestic vs. wild??

    IINM, that scenario is an urban myth. My Beloved and Darling Wife grew up down the road from a turkey farm is southwest Michigan and that sort of thing was always talked about but never observed. The domestic varieties _will_ crowd together and trample each other during feeding time, however.


    James 2:24

  11. rq says

    Remember, all birds are dinosaurs: carnivorous, blood-hungry dinosaurs. Treat accordingly.

  12. jrkrideau says

    @ 9 voyager

    ostriches are sure not native to Ontario.

    Invasive species just like the kangaroos in Eastern Ontario around Kaladar.

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