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Winter invasion of the turkeys

Living the Wild Life

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We have just finished the season for singing about “a partridge in a pear tree” but we should have been singing about “turkeys in an apple tree.” My neighborhood has been inundated by an invasion of turkeys as they have cleaned most of the trees and bushes of the rotten apples, frozen crab apples and all the rose hips.

“The other day I watched as 32 of them attacked a neighbor’s apple tree,” a friend, Gary Owens told me as we were fishing. “A couple of them would fly into the tree and beat the limbs with their wings causing the apples to fall while the rest of the turkeys would eat them. They totally cleaned the tree of all the rotten frozen fruit.”

When they first showed up in my backyard, they were a novelty and my better-half and I thought they were cute, but they have worn out their welcome. All the garden waste we called “turkey food” has been consumed and they have learned to jump-fly up to the bird feeders and spill out the black sunflower seeds. They are also depositing hot dog sized fertilizer bombs all over the driveway and yard. They are now our uninvited “ugly big birds.”

Somebody in my neighborhood is feeding these endless eating birds. The other day as they were emptying out the feed not intended for them, I tried shooing them away by yelling at them and waving my arms. Instead of flying or running away, they charged me; thinking that I throwing food to them. If I find out who is feeding these monsters, I will take them off my wife’s poppy-seed bread list.

Those huge birds have started posing for pictures in front of our “WELCOME” sign in my backyard barbeque area designed for humanoids. I may have to cover that sign or add that it is only for summer guests. I am also tempted to call the Idaho Fish and Game Department to request a depredation permit so I can harvest a few of them to make up for the deer that did not get harvested.

If the weatherman is accurate and the predicted snowstorms hit us next week, the problem will be compounded. I only have from nine to 14 showing up each day while I have seen up to 38 in the stubble fields about a quarter of a mile from my backyard. If all of those show up, it will be disastrous for my songbird friends and my backyard.

Last winter several flocks gathered on area roads picking up gravel and grain leaked from trucks that caused some collisions. It cannot be fun to have a 20-pound bird smack your windshield or destroy your cold-brittle plastic grill, so drive carefully when you see them on the road. By the way, the Fish and Game are once again warning motorists to watch out for migrating big game animals.

Secretly, I am kind of enjoying the visits from the turkeys and I hope they survive this winter. I would love to have them around in the spring when the gobblers no longer look like hens and start showing off for the girls. I would love to watch a battle between two of these big boys, but they can also be very aggressive during their rutting season.

Another worry is that their fertilizer bombs dropped this winter may create a disease called “turkey pox” for my lawn, where mixed with the beautiful green will b patches of yellow, burned grass. We will face that problem when the time comes. I am not going to worry about the turkeys until I start dreaming about them or I am forced to take some serious action like calling the Fish and Game.

In the meantime, I will start working on a new rap song about turkeys in the apple trees – and the importance of not sitting under a tree with old rotten fruit. If you do so, you may not only get hit by more than falling apples.

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