Turkeys

hen turkeys w babies

hen turkeys w babies

We are looking over our shoulders each year now, mindful of deteriorating conditions caused by climate change. Thought, though often unvoiced, is the question “Is this how it will be now? Is this not the beginning of the promised change, an intimation of hardship to come?” Close behind this fear is the inevitable awareness that no matter how hard we try to live in harmony with nature, every single day of our life we are contributing to the problems. The consciousness of loss means that every small victory, however temporary, is precious. Last winter was an acutely painful time for the creatures of Singing Meadow and those who care about them. Both deer and coyotes suffered from the exceptional, long-lasting, fifteen feet of snow. Conditions were made worse by the scarcity of all tree seeds. Since the first spring we lived at Singing Meadow we’ve relished the antics of a thriving flock of wild turkeys. We’ve laughed ourselves silly over the courtship displays of competing males, watched a prospering group of hens slip like water along the various trails through our woods. We’ve sighed over the scratching in gardens which has uprooted favorite plants. We knew conditions would be specially difficult for the twenty-six turkeys. Floundering through the abundant snow on slender legs, how would they scratch for food? And the acorns they relied on for rich food to help them through the winter were virtually non-existant. So this spring it was with dismay, though not surprise, that we saw a forlorn straggling group of four hens wander down the deer run into the valley, with no sign of a male. How sweet the reprieves are. Yesterday Barry called me to the window to watch two hens martialing eight teenaged turkeys, with much flapping of wings, introducing them to our feeder. The whippoorwill doesn’t call here any more. The swallows no longer skim over our water meadow, hawking for insects. But for now, we have the delight of the furtive turkeys and high on the sheltering hills above us, the oaks are laden with acorns again.

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About Peri McQuay

Peri Phillips McQuay is the author of Singing Meadow: The Adventure of Creating a Country Home, The View From Foley Mountain, a book of nature meditations on her experiences living for 30 years at the Foley Mountain Conservation Area and A Wing in the Door: Life With a Red-tailed Hawk is the story of her adventures with Merak, a human-imprinted hawk, who lived free but saw McQuay and her family as her special people. Also Peri has written numerous essays, articles, book reviews and a weekly column, published in the Kingston Whig-Standard Magazine. Her credits include Country Journal, Harrowsmith, Bird Watcher’s Digest, The Snowy Egret, Seasons, The Fiddlehead, Herizons and Brick.
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