Talking Turkey

The calendar says spring, the weather says winter, and Mother Nature says it’s a good time to talk turkey. At least, that’s what I assume she intended when I glanced out the window yesterday after a cold, wet morning of garden chores to catch a wild turkey hen strutting through the woodland between the house and the Reedy River. Surprisingly, I saw the hen a second time just a few minutes ago, which puts me at the computer to share the excitement with you, since I managed to grab a camera in time to take photos. A turkey can move fast when it wants to, however, so the pic below, made utilizing the zoom on a Panasonic DMC-ZS19, is a bit blurred.

Wild turkey hen

Wild turkey hen

And here’s a photo Tim captured yesterday with his phone showing the turkey in the larger landscape — including our tiny back garden above the woodland terraces that slope down towards the river. (Clicking on the photo will provide an enlarged view.)

turkey photo 2

At the bottom right, you can see the second of two stone stairways that are recently constructed for easier access up and down the steep slope. And if you look closely, you can see the new fescue (grass) seed I spread in yesterday’s cold rain, after carefully hand cultivating the soil with a prong hoe. Growing a lawn in this area is problematic, to say the least, and a new plan (which I’ll show you soon) eliminates grass completely. Work in this garden area is on hold, however, until the basement patio and first level deck are removed and replaced with a pair of porches.

I also pruned this weekend, cutting back foliage burned by single digit temperatures and winter winds, such as that on the evergreen fronds of the Japanese holly ferns (Cyrtomium falcatum) and autumn ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora). Here’s an after photo, taken this morning.

Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)

Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)

The new fronds, which were just visible above the soil when I cut away the old, have been quick to unfurl. I’ll be dashing around to provide cover later today, as we have another deep freeze with temperatures in the mid 20s headed our way. Though the last average frost date for the Upstate is April 15, we seldom see temperatures below 30 degrees F in late March. Fingers crossed this wave of frigid cold will be our last.

Thankfully, these pretty pots will be easy to move under the protection of the front porch.

Pots of Tete-a-Tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, with tulips on the way.

Pots of Tete-a-Tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, with tulips on the way.

15 thoughts on “Talking Turkey

  1. thesalemgarden

    there’s something really special about seeing wild turkeys, maybe it’s their large size? Your back garden with the river view looks beautiful, so do your pots of spring bulbs!

    Reply
  2. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Michele–this is the first turkey we’ve seen, so it’s really exciting. Our home is only a couple miles from our very busy downtown, but the river is a conduit for an amazing variety of wildlife.

    Reply
  3. Pauline

    I always feel honoured when wildlife visits our garden, sometimes though they make themselves too much at home, but most are welcome to stay. You must gets such a variety with living alongside a river. Love your colourful pots!

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Pauline–I agree! I was so honored and thrilled to see the turkey, though I’ve done nothing to improve the habitat specifically for this species. We do have a wide variety of wildlife, including some that would love to find a sitting turkey hen, including foxes and coyotes.

      Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Sandra–the turkey hen high stepped through the yard into thick cover beyond my neighbor’s property. A nest would be a fantastic find but I hope she goes somewhere else for her egg laying. There’s too much animal traffic along the river.

      Reply
  4. pbmgarden

    Exciting to see your wild turkey. There is something rather dignified about it. We saw a few near us when we first moved to this house but they’ve not been around in years. Your pots of spring color are gorgeous.

    Reply
  5. Carol

    We have a wild turkey that comes every day. I named her Trudy. Our grand kids love to watch her as she searches for food, mostly under the bird feeders.

    Reply
  6. Barbara Wilder

    A few turkey facts gleaned form Bret Collier, a LSU professor who has studied wild turkey behavior. Turkeys hens can store sperm for as long as 50 days before using it to fertilize eggs. The hen only needs to breed once in order to fertilize all her eggs. Hens typically lay one egg per day over a two-week period with two or three days during that time when she does not lay an egg. She won’t sit on the nest until her last egg is laid. Then she spends 28 days on the nest, maybe leaving once a day to feed, water and defecate. Turkey hens usually live two to three years while males live six to seven years.

    Reply
  7. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Barbara–Wow! The hens sure get the short end of the stick. I wonder what the increase in coyotes is doing to the local turkey population? Sometimes they have a howling fest around 4 a.m. and it sounds like there are a dozen or more.

    Reply
  8. gardeninacity

    My brother had wild turkeys around his house near Boston. They would get pretty aggressive. The males would get into fights with the car while it was parked, attacking it with their beaks and feet. The fights always ended in a draw.

    Reply

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