Trailblazing Turkeys

At work on Friday I was called into the museum room to witness an unusual sight. Gazing out the windows at the aviaries, we beheld a visitor. Not the usual red-tails that Ruby calls down, but a new species: turkeys. These turkeys decide to do a close inspection of the aviary.

Turkey stands on the aviary. Tenafly Nature Center. March 7, 2014

Wild Turkey stands on the aviary. Tenafly Nature Center. March 7, 2014

It was impossible to decipher what the raptors thought as first one turkey investigated the top of the aviary, and then a second. The turkeys initially kept to the wooden support beams, but soon braved the mesh, walking right over the owls. Initially the owls watched, then Mene coughed up a pellet and appeared to go to sleep.

Barred Owls receive a visitor. Tenafly Nature Center. March 7, 2014

Barred Owls receive a visitor. Tenafly Nature Center. March 7, 2014

After several minutes of running about and unsuccessful pecking at the air beneath the mesh, one turkey jumped off the roof. The other made a run for the edge and stopped short, thinking twice. We missed the second jump as we got distracted by work once again.

Haven’t done much birding or photo-editing lately. Waiting for warmer weather. Soon.

Cure for the Birding Blues

The weather recovered quickly.  Two days above 50, most of the snow is gone and I may have my first sunburn of the year. So, highlights:

Got home from work yesterday, decided to walk to my favorite birding patch.  It’s a mile down the road all along one of the Hudson River Tributaries so the entire walk has the potential to be a lovely bird experience.  The walk goes nearly halfway across the Hudson River and is a bird mecca, or at least a frequently birded place by local Audubon outings. In the summer, with the shimmering heat, it’s like walking through VanGogh’s mind.

Birds at the Pier yesterday: Canada Goose, Canvasback, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Ring-billed Gull Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, House Finch, House Sparrow.

A bit disappointing – normally there are more ducks… hello Mallard? There was a stiff wind.

So, I decided to head back there this morning.  The Pier is a lovely combination of woods, river, and wetland.  Watching ebird, I know people bird it in the morning and have fantastic luck (Iceland Gull, Common Goldeneye).  So I was out there, and, boy, was I surprised to find it was flooded.  The flood waters up to the road on the way in should have been an indicator.  Possibly some combination of high tide and wind.

So instead of walking the mile out and back, I contented myself with wandering past the dogpark and into the woods where I met a man walking his Napoleon-complex-dog.

Birds at the Pier this morning: Canada Goose, Mallard, Ring-billed Gull, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Carolina Wren, American Robin, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle and others I couldn’t identify, including these:

Closer, closer, closer, but who are we?

Closer, closer, closer, but who are we?  Click on image for a closer look.

My guess is Red-tailed Hawk based on (1) size, (2) location – have personally seen Red-tails here although others have seen Bald Eagles, Coopers, and Marsh Hawks, (3) have seen Red-tails pairing up recently, and (4) they look just like the Red-tailed Hawks I photographed yesterday.  My biggest reason why I’m not confident on this ID is the pale rusty-orange tinge of the leg feathers.  It’s in multiple photos.  It could be a product of poor lighting – they were out where the water was and I couldn’t get to a better view despite my best efforts.

New visitors to the yard over the last few days have included: Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Wild Turkey, and American Tree Sparrow.


The turkey looks so majestic with those bold colors, and also, so reptilian.

As I was finishing up at work today, one of our members/volunteers stopped in to record a sighting on the grounds: Hermit Thrush.  So of course, once I locked up the building I had to go have a look-see.  While I was out there making my way around the pond, the Belted Kingfisher was going berserk.  Sounded like a bee in his bonnet.

TNC birds: American Black Duck, Mallard, Hooded Merganser, Northern Harrier, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Red-winged Blackbird, and Common Grackle, and…. Hermit Thrush!

Now you see me! Now you don't! The Hermit Thrush bustled about.

Now you see me! Now you don’t! The Hermit Thrush bustled about, too busy for photographs.

De-lek-table Turkeys

Today was apparently the day for Turkey.

  • When I arrived at work, there were 8 or 9 turkeys wandering down toward the aviary.
  • At Rockland Lake, there were 14 turkeys (at least!) prowling at the edge of one of the seasonally closed parking lots.

Wild Turkey

Turkey displaying at the Tenafly Nature Center in Tenafly, NJ.

In both cases, they were a collection of males and females.  From what reading I’ve done during the winter males and females don’t flock together…. so seeing them together makes me wonder if turkey breeding season is approaching.  There were definitely males displaying this morning.   Unfortunately I can’t find any information on the Internet regarding when turkeys form leks.  Leks are the breeding system choice for turkeys.  In a lek, males gather together and compete for females.  Imagine a boxing ring of turkeys where they rush at each other and bump chests – that is at least what grouse do and I imagine that turkeys do something similar.  The females select the most fit males from the center.  The favored male entertains all the females.

Lots of birding today!  4 lists for the e-bird today!

Bird Feeder:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Black-capped Chickadee
5 Tufted Titmouse
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Song Sparrow
2 American Goldfinch
9 House Sparrow

1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Red-tailed Hawk
8 Wild Turkey
2 White-breasted Nuthatches

Rockland Lake:
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Gadwall (5)
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Wild Turkey
Pied-billed Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
Turkey Vulture
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Blackback Gull
Downy Woodpecker
American Crow
Tufted Titmouse
Winter Wren
Carolina Wren
Marsh Wren – new!
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow

Congers Lake Memorial Park:
1 Ring-billed Gull
7 Mallard
6 Common Mergansers
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Song Sparrow