One thing that I always get a kick out of seeing are wild turkeys. I grew up in the western part of Washington, out on the peninsula and then over in Snohomish County for my later adolescence. The natural habitat of the western Washington turkey is the freezer aisle of the grocery store, where it roosts, frozen like a block of ice, in a bag. But out here, in northeast Washington? Wild turkey for days.
(Sources say both types of wild turkey are common in northeastern Washington.)
Last night Mindy and I went for a walk and saw a hen and brood of turkey chicks very much like the picture above. Unfortunately, all I had on me was my iPhone, so the best I caught was this:
(Just take my word for it, there were turkeys.)
I’ve seen them from afar all over this ranch, and the surrounding area. There’s a monster tom turkey that likes to stalk along the creek at dusk. He’s big enough that I can see him clearly while standing on the front porch a quarter mile away.
From what I’ve read and heard from hunters, turkeys are not actually native to northeast Washington. They were first planted in the 1960’s with birds from South Dakota and New Mexico. The strain that we see most commonly around here, Merriam’s turkey (Meleagris gallopavo merriami,) is a hardy strain that adapted to our mountains, forests, and meadows readily, and has multiplied steadily ever since its first introduction.
Wild turkeys are easily domesticated, and my stepdad-in-law, Steve, was telling me about how some folks around here have been duped by them. Plenty of people move out to this part of the state for quality of life, like we have. They are charmed by these curious, gregarious turkeys coming up to their front door, and make the mistake of feeding them.
“DON’T DO THIS!” Steve huffs at me. “Next thing you know, you got whole flocks of turkeys waiting to peck your eyes out whenever you step outside!”
I don’t know how true that is, but the idea of being greeted by 50 turkeys every morning goes quickly from hilarious to horrible when I think it through. And really, there’s only so much turkey I can eat.
For now, though, most turkeys I’ve seen run the other way as soon as they catch sight of me, so I’ve only been able to enjoy them from afar, which is probably best for everyone. They leave beautiful feathers in their wake, though:
(Found along the trail last night.)
(I love the detail in turkey feathers.)
(You sure don’t find this in a bag of Butterball turkey.)
(Common American Sasquatch [H. sapiens cognatus] holding a turkey feather.)