When I moved to suburban Rhode Island from Brooklyn two years ago, I didn’t expect to see the wide array of wild animals that I’ve encountered in my own backyard.
I suppose the destruction of their natural habitats has resulted in many of these cute critters becoming our neighbors. In addition to the ever-present squirrels and chipmunks, I’ve seen foxes, possums, rabbits and deer. I’ve even heard very creditable reports of coyotes and fishercats in the area (unfortunately, the ‘missing pet’ signs attest to their presence, as well). However, my favorite wild visitors are the wild turkey. Every time I see one of these amazing birds, I dig out my camera and try to snap a few photos. Of course, my photos always look like crap and never do the birds any justice, but I wanted to post a few anyways. Last week, we had a hen with eight poults visit our birdfeeder and spend over an hour traipsing through our yard, pecking at anything that looked tasty. They are so cool! It actually made me glad that our backyard has more weeds than grass! This morning, my kids ran to the window yelling that the turkeys were back. This time, there were two hens with the eight poults. I’m pretty sure it was the same family that visited a few weeks ago, and I was really relieved to see that all eight babies were still there.
When immigrants from Europe began settling North America in the 1600′s, wild turkeys were plentiful and became an important food source. By the early 1900′s the population had dwindled due to habitat destruction and over-hunting. However, conservation efforts have returned wild turkeys to sustainable levels. According to the North American Wild Turkey Management Plan “the comeback of wild turkeys in North America is arguably the greatest conservation success story in history.” Unfortunately, the number of wild turkeys surviving to adulthood in Rhode Island seems to be dwindling, possibly due to factors including predators and poor weather conditions. (The Providence Journal has more details.) The RI Department of Environmental Management has asked that wild turkey sitings be reported to help track local populations. I already reported ‘my’ brood to be added to the turkey census!