Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Wild Encounter...

On our morning walk in the woods, we had a close encounter with a mature hen turkey.  The  dogs were doing their nose to the ground thing, Holly particularly alert to the possibility of chipmunks or red squirrels, of course.  And, suddenly something moved in my peripheral vision and I turned my head to see an adult female wild turkey....ABOUT TEN FEET AWAY.

Apparently, she had been practicing the preferred predator avoidance strategy of hunkering down and not moving a feather.  She hadn't any way of knowing that we were on a trail that would inevitably bring us right to her.  So, by the time she realized it was going to be a very close encounter we were right on top of her.

Fortunately, for all involved, the dogs' attention was directed downhill, towards the bog off to our right, so I was the first to see her and I was able to move between her and the two BIRD DOGS that were less than five yards from her.  Holly was the first to realize what was up and went into 'GET EM' mode in a flash.  But, there I was with my finger pointed right at her and shouting in my best drill-sergeant voice. "STAY!!!!"  She looked from the turkey to me and knew that she was close enough that disobedience was unrealistic.....the ogre would emerge and she does not like having him around.

Emma was further away, but also knew that the fact that I was between her and the turkey posed an insurmountable obstacle.  So, they both settled for acting agitated and watching the turkey disappear up the hill at a rapid run.  Had she been in fear of being overtaken she would have spread her wings and taken to the a lumbering C-130 clawing for altitude off of a short runway.  Turkeys avoid flying unless it is the least difficult option, and one would know why once they have seen how much work it is getting all that bulk airborne.

Ultimately, it was a thrill to be so close to a wild bird, and I did have a chance to admire how beautifully her color scheme works as camouflage.  Far from the gaudy plumage of the males, the females are a symphony of drab grays and browns that help them disappear in the woods.  She was almost invisible by the time she had put fifty yards between us.  The dogs, of course, thought the whole thing was exciting and followed her scent trail all the way to the top of the hill...tails wagging, noses to the ground.

Just another beautiful day in the Maine woods.

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