Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Turkey families

Christina Tyzzer of Indiana shared this story with me. She writes:

In order for you to fully understand, I have to share the story of Munchkin. Then I’ll give you a little explanation of the photos.

Turkey Girl finally was a Mom again on the second try of the season. Her first nest was destroyed by raccoons and the second almost destroyed, so we really didn’t expect a hatch at all…but Turkey Girl was determined. Out of a clutch of 20 eggs, the poult we named Munchkin successfully broke out of her egg to be an only child on May 31.

These two were quite a team, with lessons every single day on what to eat, how to fly, watch out for hawks, this dog is ok (Impulse, left) that dog is not (any other dog)! When Munchkin was only a few weeks old, I noticed that she was on her own one day, so I got to looking around and found Turkey Girl acting a bit strangely. I didn’t notice an injury, so just watched her closely….so closely in fact that I got to see her lay an egg! She was planning on enlarging her family! So, for the next two weeks she added an egg a day. When I watched Munchkin out playing by herself, I could always hear Turkey Girl’s call and Munchkin’s response, so each knew the other was okay at all times.

Turkeys lay an egg a day until they have enough for a clutch, which from my limited experience can be anywhere from one to 20 eggs. Turkey Girl decided that since this was her third try, 12 was enough and began incubating. This means the hen is on the nest full time. Some turkeys get up once a day to eat and "do their business," but Turkey Girl is very dedicated. I saw her away from her nest only four times in the 28 days it takes for turkeys to hatch. For the first week, Munchkin was always close by or at least in Turkey Call range.

It was about this time that I started letting my one-month-old Incubator Babies out to free-range for the first time. Munchkin was laying peacefully beside Turkey Girl when all of a sudden 32 kids her size come running over from nowhere. It was hysterical! She stood up quickly, her eyes got wide and she backed up…then she rushed forward and laid down for everyone to investigate her. Then she flew up into the tree as if to say "Can you do this?" Unfortunately, they could not…so Munchkin is now a mentor! From that day on she would join Turkey Girl in the nesting box in the evening but the rest of the day was spent playing and teaching her friends. If they weren’t out yet, she would pace in front of the gate until morning role call. It wasn’t long before Munchkin was flying and roosting in the coop with her buddies and only visiting Mom occasionally. You can see the extra set of feet under Munchkin's wing in the photo on the left. I began to feel a bit sorry for Turkey Girl, but she didn’t seem to mind. Occasionally, you could hear her calling to Munchkin and Munchkin always responded and sometimes did visit, but never for long.

Then last Friday night on making the rounds, we saw that Turkey Girl’s hatch had begun and by Sunday morning she had 10 more little ones. She now spends her days being the big Sis.


Amri said...

That's pretty funny! It sounds like turkeys are a little more accepting than chickens. Must have been fun to watch.

SPPA Leadership said...

Turkeys are interesting birds, lots of great stories about the way they react to needs in their environment. At Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, Virginia they are interpretive birds, roaming free to interact with visitors. "They find the visitors almost as faascinating as the visitors find them, and they'll just walk away if someone gets too close for their comfort," the facilities manager told me.