Wild turkeys

Midge Raymond

Ashland Creek Press co-founder Midge Raymond is the author of the award-winning short story collection FORGETTING ENGLISH and a novel, MY LAST CONTINENT. Learn more at MidgeRaymond.com.

Earlier this fall, before the rain and snow arrived, I went to the park to read and looked up to find myself surrounded by wild turkeys. (Click here to see them chowing down not far from my picnic blanket.)

I’ve seen them before, usually up on the hiking trails, so it was wonderful to find them in the park (dogs aren’t allowed in Lithia Park, which makes it a haven for all sorts of wildlife…bears and cougars have also been seen here). The turkeys hung around for a while, then wandered off, then eventually wandered back, coming almost close enough for me to reach out and pet them (not that I’d have dared). A man who was photographing them commented that I was a “turkey magnet,” which I’m not sure was meant to be flattering, but I decided to take it as a compliment. (Here’s another short video of them walking around. Listen for the gobble.)

Later, a family of deer came grazing through the meadow, and one of the curious little fawns went up to check out the turkeys. The two were about the same size, and I expected the turkeys to hurry off; instead, one of them went right up to the fawn, as if to say, “Off you go; this is my territory.” The fawn looked surprised, and a little hurt, then took off running. The turkey went back to foraging. I captured part of their standoff in this photo:

I loved reading this article about turkeys, which has all sorts of wonderful details about their social nature. Did you know for example, that turkeys like to eat breakfast and dinner together as a family? That they like to listen to music? And that, after trust has been established, they love to be petted and will even make a sound similar to a cat’s purring? Read this piece for all the reasons we should celebrate turkeys this Thanksgiving — in the wild, and not on our plates.

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Ashland Creek Press co-founder Midge Raymond is the author of the award-winning short story collection FORGETTING ENGLISH and a novel, MY LAST CONTINENT. Learn more at MidgeRaymond.com.