By Joann M. Ringelstetter
A week ago, I got out of bed on Saturday morning and discovered two hen turkeys and a whole bunch of little baby turkeys, which are called poults, in my backyard, scrounging for birdseed below the feeder.
For the past week, they’ve been showing up two or three times each day, so I began counting the poults, which is hard to do when everybody’s moving around so quickly between two birdfeeders, the deck, and the woods. There are a total of fifteen poults!
At first, I didn’t know if I could get any pictures because the mother hens were pretty cautious. But as the visits increased, I discovered that I could stand at the window as long as I didn’t make any quick moves.
And then the mothers and the poults began to lounge around on my deck, either resting or preening.
Often the poults see their mother begin to groom her feathers, so they begin imitating her to clean their own feathers.
It’s really fun to see the whole group making its way from the woods to the feeders because the whole understory seems to be moving.
It’s also fun to watch the poults cooling their feet in the birdbath.
I love the fact that several types of wildlife will feed together. Yesterday, the squirrels and chipmunks were in among the turkeys, scrounging for food on the ground. And there was even a baby bunny eating on the fringes of all the turkey commotion.
Each day, the poults get bigger and bolder. A couple days ago, they began flying up and landing inside my large fly-through birdfeeder. And when two of them are inside the feeder, often a third one will fly up and land on the roof of the feeder.
But then the question is, “How do I get down from here?” After sliding around on the roof for a while, this little poult started squawking as if to say, “I could use a little help, here!”
The funniest thing, though, happened two days ago. The turkeys came down earlier in the day and ate every bit of food that was on the ground below the feeders. There are a lot of mouths to feed, so I went out in the afternoon with a bucket of corn mixed with a little bit of birdseed and began to throw a few handfuls on the ground below the feeder.
As the feed hit the ground, it made a splattering sound and then I saw the head of an adult turkey pop up from the understory up the hill. If she could have talked, she would have said, “Did I hear food hitting the ground?” And then, to my surprise, she made a mad dash towards me, making low purring sounds as she came down the hill. I couldn’t believe she actually had the nerve to come within a couple of feet and start eating. So I just said, “You’re welcome,” and returned to the house.
I’m happy that I managed to capture these photos, even though they had to be shot through the window. Today, I realized that I can no longer stand at the window to photograph because the poults are now old enough to be fearful of me. But I will continue to watch and be entertained by them.