How many turkeys can dance on the head of a pin? OK, that may be a slight exaggeration so I’ll rephrase the question. How many turkeys can be accommodated in an urban neighborhood?
We may live in a small city of the rural intermountain west, but it’s still a city. Four or five years ago a few turkeys showed up in our neighborhood and decided to stay. At first they were an exotic addition to the local scene. But, in the best biblical tradition, they have been fruitful and multiplied. After all, they have no predators, food is abundant, there are places to nest in relative safety, and a small grove of trees provides a great rookery. The local flock is now more than thirty, and maybe as high as fifty. It’s hard to tell. I’m told that they have a life span of three or four years, but given safe haven can live for ten, and we have given them safe haven.
Gobbling is supposed to be a male trait during the mating season. Ours gobble in the morning as the sun rises. They gobble in the evening as it sets. They gobble in the daytime just for the fun of it. They form gobbling quartets. Like gobbling monks, they gobble antiphonally.
When we lived back East, hunters insisted that wild turkeys were a challenge because they are wary, elusive, and cagey about being hunted. Ours seem quite comfortable living among us, and have no intention of giving up their sovereignty. They roam in packs up and down the streets, through yards, up on rooftops, and wherever else they want to go. Local dogs and cats express their displeasure, but the turkeys are coldly aloof. It’s only with reluctance that they get out of the way of kids walking to school and cars headed off to work. According to the Cornell Ornithology Lab website, they forage for nuts and seeds but will stoop to salamanders and snails. One neighbor’s yard must have plenty of each because it looks like its been hoed and raked into turmoil soil.
I’m curious to find out how large the flock will get before it gets too large, and some appropriate agency is called in by irate home owners demanding their removal. I wonder how one captures fifty or more adult birds, and where they could take them? Maybe into the mountains where the cougars and coyotes would feast on turkey in grateful thanksgiving for birds that have never known predators.