Turkey Time

Almost everyone eats turkey for Thanksgiving.  But , as I think about it, most of the times I’ve seen turkeys in the woods, its been spring or summer. So where did the pilgrims find the turkeys for the supposed first Thanksgiving.  Or did turkeys hang out year-round back then?

So I checked the Massachusetts Wildlife site to see when you are most likely to spot a turkey. In colonial times, turkeys were very common in Massachusetts,  But by the early 1800’s they had become rare, and by 1851, were all but gone.In the 1970’s and 1980’s wildlife workers started re-locating birds from New York.  By 1996, turkeys were again well established throughout the state.Turkeys mate in the spring, and the brood usually hatches at the beginning of June.  Interestingly, turkey hunting season is in May, when there would be eggs in nests, with a week long season added in the fall.  Seems like a really weird time to be hunting anything. (Although turkey hunters tend to be odd birds themselves.  They dress in full camouflage, and sit in the bushes shooting at things that move, and yelling at runners.)

When you approach most birds in the woods (ducks, geese, or songbirds), they fly away.  But I’ve never seen a turkey fly.  They don’t even really run, they just walk surprisingly fast.  I remember being very amused watching a friend chase turkeys a couple of times.  They just keep walking away, and are about impossible to catch!  But they do fly.  How else would they get into trees to roost at night?

Turkeys eat acorns (so they must be fighting the deer for them), nuts, grapes, skunk cabbage, tubers, and bugs. Baby turkeys, called poults, eat mostly bugs because of the high protein content. Turkeys nests are often preyed on by  snakes, crows, raccoons , and skunks.  And predators of the birds include fox, coyote, fisher, bobcats, owls, and hawks.

So now you are educated about your Thanksgiving dinner!


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