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:


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


Happy 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!Posted in Arnold Arboretum, Avian, Bird walks