Sunday, April 29, 2007

More Turkey Scouting

This morning we got up extra early to attend The Church of our Benevolent Mother Nature. It was a lovely morning to be alive and be able to get out into the world God created for us. This morning we heard a turkey gobbling, but never did spot him. We took a different route around the pasture and saw evidence of the turkeys.

Here on this gopher mound are the turkey footprints. If you've never actually seen turkey footprints, they're huge! When I put my first three fingers down in the toe prints, the toes are as wide and long as each of my fingers.

Here's a gopher mound one of the turkeys used as a dusting area. We watched a hen "dusting" herself a few years ago. She would lay down in the dirt and use her wings to throw the dust all over herself. She did that for at least 20 minutes. I don't really know why they do that, but it was interesting to watch. The nice soft dirt of this gopher mound makes it easy for the turkey to take a "dust bath."

Here's a cowpie that a turkey flipped over. Early in the spring when there aren't a lot of bugs out yet, the turkeys have learned that if they flip over a cowpie, that's an easy way to find bugs right at the surface, since the grass under the cowpie has died and they don't have to scratch around too much to find bugs to eat.

There were some other interesting things to see in the pasture. The common mullein has started sprouting. Their leaves are really soft and fuzzy. They will grow a large flower stalk that's covered with little yellow flowers. The flowers attract lots of insects which, in turn, attracts lots of birds. The flower stalk can grow up to about 6 feet and I had one in my yard last year that was about 5 feet tall. The stalks generally last through the whole winter and sparrows and other small birds like to sit on top of the stalk.

Here's a tree that is being excavated by a pileated woodpecker. I put my binoculars in the larger hole to give you a visual perspective of how big these holes are! The holes were just into the tree, not nesting cavities.

When I looked closer at the tree I saw a whole bunch of little round holes about the size of a BB. These are the holes carpenter ants make and that's a pileated woodpecker's favorite food. Maybe you can see in this picture the little round holes (they look like small black dots around the large woodpecker-produced hole).

We walked back by way of the little stormwater retention pond because yesterday I saw a pair of blue-winged teals there and I was hoping to get a picture of them today....but they weren't there. While I was standing there feeling sorry for myself, a pair of wood ducks flew in over my head and landed on the pond for about 3 minutes.....long enough for me to take a couple long-distance pictures. I had seen them several times this morning flying around from tree to tree (probably looking for a nesting cavity). I'm not sure if it's too late to build a nesting box for them, but I told Rick we should think about doing that since no one has put any boxes up in that area yet.

Here's the hen--she's got that really distinctive white area around her eyes.

Here's the drake--I enhanced the photo a little so he would show up better against the drab background. What a beautiful bird!!

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