Montana Outdoors

February 27, 2010

It’s that time of year…

at least these guys think so.

Merriam's Wild turkey

Merriam's Wild turkey
Merriam’s Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo merriami



  1. Beautiful Tom’s! And look at the beard and magnificent feathers! I seldom get to see a Tom wild turkey but I see a lot of hens rooting around in the fields. I seldom, too, can get close enough to photograph wild turkeys. Preston kids me about that… my tries to photograph a wild turkey! However did you get so close? And is that a stone fence behind the first turkey?


    Comment by Anna Surface — February 27, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

    • These are two of a group (two families) of ten that have been coming around all winter. Wild turkeys in this area were completely gone about a decade ago and have been re-introduced. Most of us put food out for them during the worst of the winter to help them make it through and all in this group made it. We are seeing lots of them around now and hope that they are becoming established.

      Both photos were taken this morning just outside our house. The rock wall is part of a long rock planter flower garden.


      Comment by montucky — February 27, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

  2. Strutting their stuff!! Very nice.


    Comment by kcjewel — February 27, 2010 @ 9:08 pm

    • They sure are. I wish I could add audio as well because they are loud!


      Comment by montucky — February 27, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

  3. Montucky the Turkey Whisperer. Wonderful photos of these Toms. We see plenty of hens around here, not sure I’ve ever seen a wild Tom. I really like the top photo where you captured the bird in all it’s glory.


    Comment by Preston — February 28, 2010 @ 5:56 am

    • I have to confess that without the display, I can’t tell the difference between the sexes. I understand what to look for, but it sure isn’t easy. When the toms go into their ritual, the transformation they go through is incredible!


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2010 @ 9:12 am

  4. Good luck with the reintroduction. They did that around southern Ontario a couple of decades ago and now there are several hunts allowed and thousands of turkeys back in the area for the first time in about a century.
    Great shots of the Toms by the way. They sure are impressive birds.


    Comment by dave1949 — February 28, 2010 @ 8:28 am

    • In other parts of western Montana, especially about 50 miles west of here, there are large populations of them now and hunting is permitted. When I was a kid, I don’t remember ever seeing a wild turkey. They were then reintroduced later, established a small population and then pretty much disappeared. Now they seem to be coming back in force. The recent mild winters have helped them a lot I think.

      This group started to visit us early last fall. It is two families, and the young then were about the size of softballs. Over the whole winter there has been no attrition, and recently another adult tom joined the group.


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2010 @ 9:17 am

  5. That is one glorious looking bird!
    I’ve only ever seen then scurrying back into the bush by the side of the road.


    Comment by VioletSky — February 28, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

    • They sure are pretty when they put on that display, aren’t they! This year we have been able to get very familiar with them and have really enjoyed it. I was most amazed by the large variety of sounds that they make: they are never quiet.


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

  6. Terry:

    It isn’t even Spring and the effects testosterone poisoning are apparent.



    Comment by Chad — February 28, 2010 @ 3:19 pm

    • That’s about it, too. Today there was a big fight that went on for quite awhile. Lots of gobbling, pecking, flapping and carrying on. It will probably get even worse, too.


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2010 @ 3:43 pm

  7. And I thought tomcats were bad! I guess they’re our urban equivalent. Pretty plumage.


    Comment by Candace — February 28, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

    • The turkeys are every bit as bad as tomcats, and believe me, much louder too!


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

  8. Great shots Terry, I saw one strutting in the snow about a week ago, I love to be out in the morning and hearing them gobble !!


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — February 28, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

    • They are fun to watch, aren’t they! Yesterday they were gobbling and it could be heard from a long ways away! I’m very glad to see their numbers increasing again.


      Comment by montucky — February 28, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

  9. He’s shaking and struttin’ in a turkey trot to woo a female!! 😀 These toms may be upset, Terry, because their snood and wattles are red.

    Nice shots [lol not literally] of these fellows. Great detail in the feathers and head.

    My mama used to raise turkeys when we lived in Coastal Texas while I was a youngster.

    Love the rock wall.


    Comment by Iona — February 28, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

    • They were pretty agitated, milling around and disagreeing with each other. Sure fun to watch though, knowing I didn’t have any responsibility like you would with children. After all, they’re all wild!

      I’ll probably put up more pictures of that wall later when my wife’s flowers are blooming. My son built it and it’s about 80 feet long and 6 feet high in places. We love it for many reasons.


      Comment by montucky — March 1, 2010 @ 12:12 am

  10. Wow, turkey seems to know how to “conquer” female turkeys. Great photos.


    Comment by sartenada — March 1, 2010 @ 12:29 am

    • They really put on a show, and it’s impressive too because they are big to start with.


      Comment by montucky — March 1, 2010 @ 9:53 am

  11. Looks like they were playing in face paint before their portrait session!


    Comment by Bo Mackison — March 1, 2010 @ 10:09 am

    • This is the first year that I’ve been able to observe them in any detail at all, and the head colors (and how quickly they change the colors) have been a big surprise to me.


      Comment by montucky — March 1, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

  12. I had two Toms glaring at one another on opposite sides of a chain link fence on Saturday. What a sight, they wanted to have a go at one another, but couldn’t figure out the fence problem. I walked through the large opening in it 20 yds away to get shots of each, but the humorist in me hopes that they didn’t find it too soon.


    Comment by DaveABirding — March 1, 2010 @ 11:44 am

    • They are very smart birds, but sometimes, well, maybe not so much. Never a dull moment with them however.


      Comment by montucky — March 1, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

  13. Love the feathers, especially the tail feathers. I often find some along my driveway when the gang is on the move….


    Comment by Cedar — March 1, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

    • These leave a lot of feathers laying around too. Mostly small ones. I suppose now that the toms are at war with each other we’ll see some tail feathers on the loose.


      Comment by montucky — March 1, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

  14. We had show and tell at both care homes…i brought the turkey feathers you sent, then showed them the pictures. The majority of residents feel sorry for the two female turkeys. Ha ha ha. Love you Dad!


    Comment by Juls — March 2, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

    • That was a good idea for show and tell! Well, the females are the mothers: they know how to keep the gang under control. Love you, Hon!


      Comment by montucky — March 2, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

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