Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Snoods, Wattles, Parks and You: Thanksgiving Thoughts from Brandon Twp.

If wise old  Ben Franklin had his way the wild turkey would have been our national symbol and perhaps today we would be sitting down with family, friends and loved ones to a  heaping plate of hot stuffed eagle. Ben looked at the eagle as a thief, stealing fish from osprey. He praised the turkey as a respectable bird.  The wild turkey has expanded its range greatly in the past dozen years and is now well established in much of Oakland County.  I'm lucky. I often see these colorful birds strutting through my Brandon Township woods, pecking near the edge of my woods for seed and grubs in the last days before snow. And if spooked, sometimes I seem them in flight.Yes, muscular wild turkeys are powerful fliers unlike their flabby morbidly lily-white obese farm kin that are so unsteady on their feet they can't even mate. Fact is the mass produced turkey you are eating today most likely never flew one wing flap and is a product of artificial insemination.  And now that you are loosing your appetite I'll toss is some turkey sex facts to spice up your attitude. The Toms (males) have a fleshy red wattle on the neck and a fleshy mass over the beak known as a snood. These features are thought to be physical lures to attract as many wild woods hens as they can. For if you want to be a turkey that spreads your genes far and wide you want to be totally irresistible: One hot strutting Tom!  Seeing turkeys in the wild is easier now that leaves are down. I'm thankful I need only to walk out my back door to encounter turkeys. Many of the parks in Oakland County have excellent turkey habitat. Two of my personal favorites for chance turkey encounters are Kensington Metropark (try near the nature center) and Independence Oaks County Park (most anywhere!)  Happy Thanksgiving to all and thanks for being a reader of Earth's Almanac. And your comments make it more fun for all.


Anonymous Diane Constable said...

I am sooo glad that about 15 years ago the DNR stopped spending resources on raising/planting pheasant (a native of China and only semi-successful in Michigan) and put the time/money toward our native Turkey flocks. Now not only do my retrievers sometimes flush turkeys on our property (and they indeed fly quite well!), but I often see them -sometimes have to stop the car for them- when traveling to Lansing from Livingston County. I was at Kensington a few weeks ago but didn't know the turkeys have arrived there!! I will have to look for them next time I go ~ another great article!

November 25, 2010 at 8:06 AM 
Blogger Miriam S said...

Have you tried to eat one? Is that legal? I just attended a talk in Chicago about heritage livestock.

November 26, 2010 at 12:09 AM 
Blogger Jonathan Schechter said...

To Miriam,

I have had wild turkey several times. There is a hunting season for them. And they are tasty and very different than the commercial butterball type farm breeds. And no chemical or hormone additives. They are what they eat and they eat acrons, seeds, grubs, seeds etc: nature's offerings.

November 26, 2010 at 12:50 AM 

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