Talking Turkey

As we prepare to enjoy the Thanksgiving celebration it seems a good time to appreciate the Wild Turkey.  This beautiful creature was once proposed as our national bird by Ben Franklin (glad that didn’t happen- eating the national bird wouldn’t have gone over so well).


Adult tom turkey in full display at the Boston Nature Center                                                           Photo: Bob Mayer

The combination of being fairly easy to hunt ( try telling that to a turkey hunter! ) and good to eat extinguished the Wild Turkey from Massachusetts in the 1850′s; they were  reintroduced in 1970.  Today they are quite common throughout the state, even in urban areas:


Wild Turkey meandering down Goldsmith Street in Jamaica Plain.                                                Photo: Bob Mayer

The most reliable place to see Wild Turkeys in our area is the Boston Nature Center.  They are big, aggressive birds.  I have been chased by them more than once while walking there:


This young tom turkey was pursuing me until I picked up a stick and “herded” him away.         Photo: Bob Mayer


While turkeys are seen mostly on the ground in fields or open woodland, they often roost in trees at night to hide from predators such as coyotes:


This was one of a flock of 30 Wild turkeys that hung out in the pine grove above the visitor’s Center in the Arnold Arboretum during the winter of 2006.                                                             Photo: Bob Mayer

Here is a link from the Mass Audubon Website for more facts on the Wild Turkey.

Seen in full sunlight, these birds dazzle:

P1180461But when it comes to Turkey Day, I’ll go for a domestic bird over one of the tough guys pictured above:

IMG_2389Happy Thanksgiving!


Here are a couple of up-coming winter bird walks:

Sunday, December 7: Leverett Pond and Olmsted Park, Brookline

This walk is co-sponsored by The National Park Service and the Emerald Necklace Bird Club, and will focus on waterfowl and other winter species on Leverett Pond and adjacent areas of Olmsted Park. The 90-minute walk is suitable for beginning birders as well as more experienced birders.  Meeting Place: parking lot on Pond Avenue near Brook House on the Brookline side of Leverett Pond, just off Route 9. Meeting time 9:00 AM

Sunday, January 11: Arnold Arboretum, Boston


This will be an easy two-hour walk from the main gate to Bussey Hill and back, focusing on winter birds as well as admiring the woody plant collection in winter.  See the arboretum website  for directions and a checklist of birds. Meeting place:  Inside the main gate off the Arborway (parking along the Arborway). 9:00 a.m.

Good Birding!






Misty and Grey Fall Bird Walk

Six people showed up on Saturday October 4th for a walk on Peters Hill in cloudy and occasionally rainy weather.  Birds were sporadic and just like last week we had NO warblers!  We did find some fall arrivals here and there and the regular residents.  The strangest sighting was a Red-bellied Woodpecker on the gravel road to the stump dump; it seemed to be finding ants or some other critters on the ground.  Not often this bird is seen on the ground.  Here’s one in more typical pose:


Red-bellied Woodpecker Photo: Bob Mayer

Here is the eBird list for the walk today.

Arnold Arboretum, Suffolk, US-MA
Oct 4, 2014 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Comments:     cloudy, misty, 58
19 species

Red-tailed Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  6
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  3
Blue Jay  7
Black-capped Chickadee  5
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
American Robin  25
Northern Mockingbird  3
European Starling  3
Chipping Sparrow  6
Song Sparrow  3
White-throated Sparrow  4
Dark-eyed Junco  1
Northern Cardinal  4
Common Grackle  2
House Finch  1
House Sparrow  12

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Good Birding!

Indian Summer Bird Walk in the Arboretum

On Saturday I led a group of 13 birders on a walk in the Meadow Road area of the Arboretum.  The walk started off at 8 AM with temperatures in the low 50′s but by 10AM the thermometer was reading 72 and headed upwards.  The fall migration has been very slow in Boston and today was no exception; we had no northern birds passing through. Overall the species diversity was low, but we did have good looks at several resident birds.

Two of the three man-made ponds at the end of Meadow Road are nearly dry, but there was a Great Blue Heron feasting on the concentration of fish in the dwindling pool.

Great Blue Heron Photo: Bob Mayer

Elsewhere we had good looks at several of the resident Red-tailed Hawks in the Arboretum.


Red-tailed Hawk Photo: Bob Mayer

All the rest of the sightings were pretty mundane, but the good weather and an enthusiastic group kept the walk upbeat to the end. Here is our list for the morning:

Arnold Arboretum, Suffolk, US-MA
Sep 27, 2014 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
Comments:     sunny, 52-71
17 species

Great Blue Heron  1
Red-tailed Hawk  3
Herring Gull  2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  1
Mourning Dove  6
Downy Woodpecker  2
Blue Jay  7
Black-capped Chickadee  2
American Robin  18
Gray Catbird  2
European Starling  6
Cedar Waxwing  1
Chipping Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  1
Common Grackle  20
American Goldfinch  25
House Sparrow  20

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

I will conduct another Arnold Arboretum fall walk this Saturday, October 4th at 8AM, starting from the Peters Hill Gate. Hopefully the later date, and the abundance of fall fruit on the hill, will bring in some migrants!  Hope to see you there.

Good Birding!