“Them Turkeys Is Having a Jubilee” (update)

The video is set to “public” now. Who knew? I learn and relearn and unlearn and relearn in an infinity loop! Problem is, now all ya’ll will wonder about the “secret lives of the really wild turkeys” and this rough snippet will be extremely boring. Ah, well, it doesn’t take much to keep me entertained.


THESE WORDS FROM A MAN WITH A JOURNALISM DEGREE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, a man who was a newspaper editor, and a regional director of corporate public affairs for thirty years. You know who I mean. That Buck. Buck Westmark, who understands more than most that a writer needs to know the rules first before she sets about to smash them up against the old red shed.

David Claude Bailey, freelance writer, king of “cue,” and former executive editor and barista at Delta Air Lines Sky magazine, requested video of our resident rafter of wild turkeys, so I have (ta da) this very morning recorded a satisfyingly rough cut video  on my aging point and shoot. If you listen all the way to the very end, you’ll hear a Good Morning from my gravel-voiced darlin’, the chairman of the board (emeritus) himself.

And if you want to learn more about what to call birds, the folks at birdnature.com have the word. I think a convocation of eagles might be my favorite, but don’t you love an exaltation of larks, a deceit of lapwings, and especially a cauldron of raptors? My timidly drawn fictional characterizations are like stick figures compared to these realities.

And do you find it is impossible to read everything you want to read, even when you keep an open book in every room, including right by the sink where you brush your teeth? What a wonderful problem to have.

Okay, for David, here’s the video. It came up kind of sudden. I’ll try to do better the next time.

There’s One In Every Crowd

Turkey on the Gate

It’s hard to get anything done when there’s a wild turkey street carnival going on all day everyday in the clearing around the house. Soon as the dense fog burned off mid-morning, there they were. I counted 22, which is the usual cohort. They run around, jump up in the air and chest bump, dance, sidle, and spook the deer.

Best of all, they gladden my heart.

Hope all you folks on the blizzardy eastern seaboard stay warm and safe this weekend.

The chain-link fence gate isn’t a “wire,” but how not to think of Leonard Cohen when you look at that bird, in all its magnificent absurdity?

Not Quite Out of the Woods

Flying free in the woods is much more felicitous than being shrink-wrapped in the supermarket.

FUNNY HOW WE SPEAK OF SOMEONE being “out of the woods” as a sign that they are out of danger from a health crisis and yet when I see the wild turkeys so at ease in the woods on this Sunday before Thanksgiving, and I consider my own ease there as well, it is clear that for the turkey to be shrink-wrapped in a supermarket refrigerated case or me sky-dropped into a concrete canyon, to be “out of the woods” would be lethal for the turkeys and uncomfortable for me.

Thank you for the comfort of your words and prayers for my sister. She has just been moved down a notch from intensive care. There has been brain surgery to relieve pressure from swelling in the unforgiving skull.  There have been seizures. One day we conversed on the phone and the next she could not speak at all, and all the faces she beheld were as if they were strangers rather than her own good sons. During the past sixty hours, her ability to speak, to read, to think and to remember her loved ones and friends, has returned. The joy I felt upon hearing her slightly creaky voice, sometimes reaching for a word or phrase, is quite indescribable.

Buck and I talked once about creating video conversational interviews of one another to preserve the essence of light in the eye, timbre of the voice, body language and the je ne sais quoi that makes us us. We really need to do this for each other, against the day.

We walked the woods today. It was warm in the sunshine and a tad chilly in the shade, the sky electric blue. I hope you enjoy this little slideshow of our walk.

Wild Turkeys by the Swimming Pool

Buck noticed them first. Two wild turkeys swaying, trying to balance themselves on top of the six-foot chain link fence around our back yard. Those two hopped down onto the ground inside the fence. The rest of the flock waddled in through the gate I had left open the other day when I was going to mow one last time for the season but didn’t because some small mow-stopping mechanical thing went wrong with the old John Deere and so I left it sitting where it stopped, outside the gate under an oak tree.

We have been seeing this group two to three times a day for several weeks. They normally circle the clearing between house and woods, darting enthusiastically at seeds and bugs. It’s hilarious to watch them run around on the driveway. I can almost hear the click-click-click of their steps. Yesterday, however, is the first time they’ve come exploring into the fenced area out back. The only reason we have a fence is that county code requires a swimming pool to be enclosed. Seems kind of silly out here on a hundred acres of woods, and looks ugly, too, but in our litigious society, the fence has to stay. Guess I better go close the durn gate, too.

The pool has an automatic vacuum system we call “the blue streak.” It is subject to rear up and spray water in your face or wet your clothes when you’re innocently walking by. Buck and I surmised that big turkey leaning over toward the pool may have seen movement from the blue streak. I’ll bet if it wiggled around and sprayed them, there would have been some kind of squawking, hissing, and flying. Sure would have been fun to watch. Still, we were highly entertained when two hens moved around each other in circular dance steps so lovely and formal I swear I could hear a string quartet accompaniment.

The turkeys spent almost an hour in the backyard exploring what was for them virgin territory. They eventually wound up by my motley assortment of bird feeders near the eastern border of the fence. The feeders draw zippy chickadees, angry-eyed fat doves, cardinals, titmice, goldfinch, and all sorts of tweets my brother Wally (see his gorgeous new blog, Our Florida Journal) could identify.

How to (Unintentionally) Annoy a Young Wild Turkey

At least he looked exasperated to me. Don’t know if he was part of the group of animated pine cones with legs that we saw run out from a hen’s feather skirt a few weeks ago, but he’s probably about the right size to be one of that cohort.  When I saw this little fellow, he was sitting just off the gravel drive from our gate to the house. I stopped the car a good distance away and watched him for a few minutes. He looked at the car, then across the road, pulled his head further into his neck, and fluffed up his feathers almost over his head. I could almost imagine him saying, “Sheesh! I was already having a bad day, and now she comes along.” I didn’t have my regular camera, just the one in my cell phone, but finally decided to crank up the car again and ease slowly past the bird. I was concerned he might be injured, but when I got a closer look and snapped a picture through the open car window, he took an animated little hop over a low branch toward the deeper woods.

Backyard Turkeys

These 5 gobblers are regular visitors, as is a larger groups of hens and young turkeys. It may be due to this year’s super-abundant acorn crop, but we have never seen so many turkeys hanging about and cruising the woods. One bunch roosts in trees on the north side of the stream bed, and when I spook them walking by, the loud noise from their wings as they take flight is startling.

I halfway expect them to fly over the fence and peck at their reflection in a sliding glass door.


Monday Morning Go To Meeting Time


This turkey hen is the first we have seen since the wheat and oats developed seed heads. She came after a farmer's rain plumped up the seeds.

I am attending a county planning board meeting this morning. The optional sector plan under consideration will be discussed. This turkey might be interested if she could grasp that her favorite feeding ground could be bisected, her paradise paved.