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Turkey Lonely Hearts Club


Typically, when you see wild turkeys, you see them in a flock. If they are seeking a morning breakfast of grasshoppers and other early rising insects, several dine together.  At night, they gather in  large groups to roost in a big tree that provides each bird its own branch.  However, they perch close enough to one another for the turkey equivalent of The Walton’s “Goodnight, John-boy” evening song.

For the past few weeks, we’ve had a lone hen roaming our property.  I am trying to solve the mystery of why she is on her own.  Is this a turkey choice?  Has she done something awful like Hester Prynne and been shunned by the flock? Does she have turkey body odor so no turkeys  hang  with her?

Ironically, my chickens don’t mind her presence.  I see her blue head bobbing up and down as she wanders in and out of their evening feeding routine, occasionally gobbling one of their grasshoppers.  Despite having to share their supply of bristly-legged insects, the hens and rooster include her in their pasture gleanings.

While this hen wanders far from her kind, she’s brave about approaching the house.  Several times, she’s alarmed our little terrier by peeping into our living room window. She’ll come right up to the plate glass to stare inside.

This is a wild turkey, so I am sure there is a more reasonable answer than an avian peeper, like maybe sampling insects lurking in the Russian sage growing in front of the window.  However, she looks like she’s checking out the activity inside the house.  Buster’s vicious, high-pitched bark does nothing to alarm her—at least when he’s inside the house.

I pointed her out to my husband and began explaining my creative and unlikely reasons for being in our yard.  As a wildlife professional, he looked at me and my meanderings like I was  from another planet or like I had been wandering in the extreme heat like this lonely turkey hen.  After a moment or two of serious thought, he dismissed my ramblings with a “Maybe she’s on a nest, a late nest granted, but still a nest, and she’s taking a break to eat.”

Whoa, that’s a thought I hadn’t considered.  We might be hosting a bunch of turkeys in the not too distant future.  You can bet I’m alert whenever I see that hen turkey.  Perhaps, instead of being the lonely-hearted, rejected hen, she’s a harried mom trying to find a bit of time to herself to find a meal. 

I still have the mystery of the lonely turkey hen to solve, but my husband has certainly pointed out that I hadn’t considered all the logical possibilities.  Even if I never figure out why this lonesome hen joins us on a regular basis, I am certain she knows what she is doing.