Wild Turkey & Creatures

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Posted by Shawn & Annette in Outdoors on April 15, 2011

I have really been enjoying our mountain oasis. I call it an oasis but in reality it is more of a peninsula; a word I still can’t spell despite growing up in Michigan with its upper and lower peninsula – go figure.

Today, I stormed out the door, onto the deck with my normal over-exuberance and not only startled a wild turkey who sat perched on the edge of our deck rail but I was surprised to suddenly find myself 5-feet from a rather large bird. I had forgotten just how big turkeys can get. (We used to raise turkeys on our Curtice, Ohio farm a lifetime ago.)

This particular turkey has been visiting for a couple of weeks, stopping in, normally in the early evening hours. He was here bright and early this morning. Strange, she just doesn’t look that big in the pictures I’ve been taking, but up close is another story. I could see the texture of the birds wings as she sat preening herself. I’ve been trying to be more quiet when I step outside for a smoke break and what I’ve begun calling my mental health moments.

Our nervous flock of junco’s are finally getting used to me. They will stay and eat pretty close by if I stand relatively still. Of course, any significant movement causes them to get spooked and fly off in unison, which in itself is pretty neat to see and hear. The sounds around our deck can get incredibly loud at times and vary throughout the day depending on the birds and animals that have wandered in.

I try to keep water available on the property for the animals and I put bird seed out for the birds, as well as an occasional crust of bread. I keep dried corn on the cob for the squirrels, which they recently have enjoyed peeling off the cob — I have a small pile of it under the shepherd’s hook. I sprinkle bird seed on the ground from time to time, toss out some peanuts and almonds for the jay birds. Left over potatoes, apples, apple peels, lettuce and carrot scraps make tasty treats for the deer to enjoy.

I try to limit my offeringss to mostly things the animals can and do find in nature.

I’ve been reading some back issues of Birds and Blooms, which has some terrific ideas for making inexpensive homemade bird feeders. I enjoyed several articles and I am considering using some of the neat tips I’ve found. I am a little concerned to read articles about people training wild birds to eat from their hands. I think it’s important that we help the animals survive harsh winter weather. But, there is a huge difference between offering a little assistance to our backyard critters and creating dependence.

If we humans continue to interfere with the natural cycles of nature, we upset the delicate balance and natural order of things. Wild animals are just that — wild — and need to remain so. Hand feeding deer, birds and other wildlife simply isn’t natural and can lead to more harm than good for the animal.

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Spring is in the air

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Posted by Shawn & Annette in Outdoors on March 11, 2011

I went out on the deck just before 6 a.m., and was amazed at the sounds which greeted me. About 10 feet from the deck is a small crop of trees surrounded by fallen dead trees, perched in close proximity to each other, were roughly a dozen Steller Jay’s caterwalling in unison. It was the strangest thing.

Normally, when Steller Jay’s gather to feed and fight (their other pasttime) they will take turns calling to each other. One Jay usually can be easily singled out as the leader of the pack, who doesn’t take any guff from his subordinates. Today was different. They were obviously upset about something as they diligently bellowed their urgent call to each other with an intensity rarely seen in birds of this type.

It led me to wonder if they could have been reacting to the earthquake in Japan, and the subsequent tsunamis. Wouldn’t that be something?

After carrying on for roughly 3 or 4 minutes, they went back to their normal cawing like nothing happened. One by one they abandoned their statue-like stance and flew off to do the things that Steller Jay’s do. Last year, we had one Steller’s Jay who loved to annoy the squirrels. Each time the squirrel attempted to get a drink of water, the Steller’s Jay would dive-bomb him, in an attempt to knock him into the water.

My husband took great joy in watching their antics right outside his office window.

Yesterday, we had a doe and twin fawns wander into the yard. She was the largest doe I’ve seen in a very long time in Twain Harte. She looked well-fed and her fawns were nice sturdy stock as well. Our two hard snowfalls this year didn’t seem to do the deer population any harm what-so-ever. In fact, our long warm spell in January probably contributed to their added size and girth.

I can only image how big some of the bucks must be.

I picked up several kinds of bird seed at the feed store today. I noticed we have a large flock of Junco’s and a dozen or more Mountain Quail, as well as a few other birds I still need to identify. I believe we also have a great many Black-headed Grosbeak as well.

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