Friday, April 17, 2009

Yesterday seems to have been my day for spotting urban turkeys all over Madison

Yesterday: My Urban Turkey Day
First there was the one in Owen Park, but at least it was doing something I had seen turkeys do before -- walking in that ungainly, but surprisingly rapid, way they have. Sometimes I've seen them fly, but they were always low altitude short hops, almost as if they were performing running jumps while beating their wings, rather than flying. But this was different. No turkey could jump this high.

T and I were walking in the UW Arboretum's Curtis Prairie, when we decided to walk northeast through the woods toward Teal Pond. We were enjoying our walk through the gathering twilight, some distant trees still painted red by the setting sun, when I heard a rustle of wings from a large bird at treetop level, followed by a scrabbling sound as it tried to navigate its way through a forest of twigs and branches to a safe landing on a larger limb. It must have been sixty or seventy feet above the ground.

I did not have a clear view. I just saw a large, blurred shape in my peripheral vision, disappearing behind some branches and tree trunks. But I could see where it must be. I knew it wasn't a hawk. I thought it might be an owl. We approached silently and carefully so as not to spook the creature. As we rounded a tree that had been blocking the view, we got a clear view. And I saw the first turkey I've ever seen roosting near the top of a towering oak. I wondered what had spooked it so that it felt it had to elevate to such a height -- or whether it just flew up there for the fun of it.

As we walked away, I turned back and it still seemed to be standing there, immobile. It seemed to wonder how the heck it was going to get out of there, through that prickly obstacle course of small, closely-spaced small. But I suppose he managed in the end.


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Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure what you spotted was a turkey turning in for the night. It's safer up there. This mentions it briefly and I happened to hear someone talking about this behavior extensively the other day.

Madison Guy said...

cbj, thanks for the information and the link -- a useful reminder that when I think I see a wild animal doing something that seems strange, more often than not, there's a good reason for it. I had no idea they roosted in trees. I'm glad my bed is on the ground. Bedding down for the night seems a lot easier.

Anonymous said...

(yes, rolling over could get tricky.) should have mentioned in the earlier comment how nice a shot that was. loved the peeps series, too. didn't know they came in blue.