Tina Tyzzer contacted me in May about the seven feral turkeys that moved into her yard the previous November. "They walked out of the woods and up to my bird feeders and have lived within a few small acres ever since," she wrote. They are apparently escaped domestic birds, including Royal Palms and Bronze varieties. Definitely not wild ones.
She didn't know how to care for them. The hens laid eggs and even hatched out a few poults, but predators took them every time. She wanted to find a way to protect them and help them hatch and rear some successfully. She suspected a neighbor's cat, but she also saw an opossum nearby one day. She lives on two and a half acres and keeps half an acre natural, mowing paths so that she can get to her bee hives and berry bushes. Plenty of space for wildlife.She fenced around the nesting site one had chosen and kept her protected. Tina awoke to good news July 4: eight poults hatched successfully. A ninth hatched the next morning!
She worried at first that the poults weren't eating much, but was reassured at the information in my chicken book that chicks do not need to eat for the first day or two after hatching, while they continue to absorb nourishment from the yolk. "Poults must be the same, because as of yesterday, their appetites had also arrived," she wrote.
Here they are, and the improvised yard Tina fenced off for them. She and her husband plan to build a chicken coop this summer and acquire a few hens. Whether the turkeys, after having enjoyed their freedom, will be willing to accept confinement is another story. At first, fencing made them nervous and they paced along it until they found a way around, or simply flew over.