4/13 The Jake

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It’s an odd feeling when you try to sneak up on a wild turkey, but the turkey just doesn’t care. Yesterday evening I noticed him picking his way through a meadow above the trail, with a casual, self absorbed attitude. As I approached he slowly moved along, keeping about eight feet away.

This lone bird is a “jake” (one year old male) and he’s out looking for love. Apparently he’s seen a bit of the human world already – the neighborhood grapevine reported him wandering down streets and through backyards last week. This being an urban forest, his amorous gobbling yesterday was answered by a family with kids and an Umbrella cockatoo on someone’s shoulder.

Life is frustrating for Jakes; they fight among themselves for dominance, but are relatively expendable in terms of natural selection. Only a few dominant adult gobblers will father broods, and only a few jakes need to survive each year to fill that need. This one may have been chased off by a more dominant bird.

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He’d certainly found a nice place to forage, and was plucking chickweed flowers and likely any little critters living amongst them. This lush hillside is literally carpeted with chickweed and bedstraw, a result of cutting the Bush honeysuckle that formerly dominated. Such cut areas are desirable Turkey habitat – brushy with low cover and a fast takeover of weedy herbaceous plants.

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Why are there turkeys in a little forest surrounded by the city? Quoting David Curson, director of bird conservation at Audubon Society’s Maryland-D.C. office, “Especially where there are green corridors alongside rivers and streams projecting into the cities and suburbs, turkeys will follow those, and come into built areas.” Beargrass Creek, which wraps around the preserve, is just such a wildlife highway – who knows what will wander in next?

 

 

7 thoughts on “4/13 The Jake

  1. Deany

    Love this! Last year we had a family, with three young ones, visit the open area. We always enjoy seeing them. Looking forward to seeing if we see young ones again this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. shoreacres

    We have such ‘wildlife highways’ here, stretching from the Galveston Bay marshes along the bayous, up to NASA’s Johnson Space Center (!) and on north, to the Armand Bayou nature center and other patches of preserved or restored prairie. Usually, it’s deer that we see, but there’s no question that other critters are traveling the ‘road.’ I’m pretty sure we don’t have turkeys, though. They’re quite common in other areas of the state, though I’ve never gotten such a good look at one as you did! Their ability to apparently vaporize is amazing.

    Right now, it’s the turtles that are everywhere. I saw two of them today, resting on dinghy docks in a local marina. It was warm and sunny, and they were obviously happy.

    I must tell you — I got such a kick out of you visiting Lagniappe. Not only was I glad that you’d seen some of my favorites, it was fun for me to go back and see what I’d posted! Sometimes I’ll put a clever title on a post, and then, a couple of months later, when I see the title I have no idea what the image is. I need to look at my own archives more often!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. shoreacres

        One of the two was a red-eared slider, and I’m pretty sure the other was, too.There are other species around, but those seem to be the most common around my area. On the Gulf beaches, the Kemp’s Ridley nesting season is beginning, and I’m hoping that I might get to see a hatchling release this year.

        Liked by 1 person

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