It's that time of the year again here in the Wind River Canyon; springtime has finally arrived. We had a very long and brutal winter that seemed like it would never end. All of a sudden it was in the seventies; bang, just like that it's spring! Of course, winter is probably not over yet, because in Wyoming it never really is over. Years ago, we were up on the Beartooth Pass road (Chief Joseph Highway), the part in Wyoming, and it was July 12th at noon----in a white-out blizzard!!! You never really know, so be prepared for any kind of weather.
We have had Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) living in the canyon for only three years, and in abundance for only two. Now we have more than two dozen....and it's nesting season. How do you know when it is mating-time? The male wild turkey, also referred to as Tom, will put on a display that is unlike anything else in nature. Their change is quite dramatic and they become very vocal indeed; they are quiet in the winter months.
That weird thing that now hangs down from their "nose" is called a snood. That flappy skin that hangs down from their "chin" is called a wattle. And that wrinkly skin that runs down the back of their necks are amusingly called caruncles. Their heads will also deepen in colors that are wildly red and blue.....yes, blue! The Tom will weigh 30 pounds and even more, it is not uncommon. As big and fat as wild turkeys are, they fly quite well, which is a real wild sight to behold. Seeing a group of them in flight is a crazy thing to experience.
Wild turkeys make so many different sounds that I will not try to explain their vocalizations, but they are a lot of fun. I have spent many, many hours with wild turkeys and have found them to be absolutely amazing birds, and they are great with melted cheese!; just joking, the wild ones are not anywhere near as good as the twenty-dollar ones at your grocery store. Which is why there seems to be so many of them around now.....no one hunts them anymore. Your grandmother couldn't just run down to the store and buy a great tasting domestic turkey. The list of wild animals that eat wild turkeys is long and arduous; everyone just loves turkey.
I've been testing out a new lens that I have always dreamed of owning, and the photograph I got just yesterday made me grin. It is of a Tom in full mating display and the colors are just rich.
Wild turkeys are not endangered, their population is estimated to be over seven million, and I assume that number to be on the low side! They are native to America and we are lucky to have such an interesting and noisy bird around; but do you know how much poop twenty-five wild turkeys leave on my sidewalk?
All content of this Wind River Canyon Blog is produced by me, Michael John Balog, and I live in the canyon and use only Canon equipment. Spend some time experiencing the Wind River Canyon, it's just magical here.
Visit HogbatsPhotography.com for award-winning hummingbird photographs, Bighorn Sheep galleries and over 100 wild birds photographed in the Wind River Canyon here in the state of Wyoming.