Friday, March 20, 2009

Camera Critters: Winter Gobblers-Few Hard And Fast Rules In Nature


It seems there are few hard and fast rules in nature. It is commonly thought that male wild turkeys, known as gobblers, seldom gobble except during the mating season. In our area of Pennsylvania, mating or "gobbling season", ordinarily begins with the first warm weather in March and comes into full swing in early April. Activity dwindles in late May and is ordinarily over by mid-June.

The flocks of turkeys featured in this post have never figured this out and periodically gobbled and strutted throughout the past winter. The turkeys in the photo below are young gobblers, which many refer to as "Jakes". This is how turkeys look most of the time in winter.

Young Gobblers or "Jakes"

The photo below portrays a mature gobbler with tail fanned out and head partly swollen. It is amazing how a gobbler's appearance changes as he goes through the strutting and gobbling ritual.

Mature Eastern Wild Turkey Gobbler

Even though they are primarily woodland birds, turkeys like to visit meadows. This was one of the most amazing turkey experiences I have witnessed. One flock of birds was on a ridge behind me, while another was in the meadow in front of me.

Gobblers On Ridge

One flock gobbled in unison and the other replied. This continued for several minutes and made the valley ring with thunderous gobbles.


"Mature Gobblers In Full Gobble"(hen or jake to left)

It may have been aberrant behavior, but it made for an interesting winter. It is sometimes difficult to tell in a still photo whether a bird is a hen or a jake, but if one came observe it moving about and view it from different angles, it is usually possible to make a positive identification.

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24 comments:

Leedra said...

The 2nd photo is AWESOME!!!!

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Bradley Myers said...

That must have been allot of fun, great photos, you should have broke out the box call and joined in.

Prins said...

Love the second capture, a wonderful shot.

i beati said...

These pictures are just plaibn awesome sandy

Dina said...

What a story! I'd love to hear and see those turkeys someday. Thanks for the photos meanwhile.

Snap said...

Wonderful photos!

Gobble, gobble!

Thank you!

kayleen said...

Very interesting information and great photos. Thanks for sharing.

Nebraska Birding

April said...

The strutting gobbler with his tail fanned makes for an impressive display! Great photos!

Ken Conger Photography said...

Great series. I'm with Brad, really like #2. I hope to get out soon to maybe capture some shots as good as these. Blue Skies.

Grammy said...

All great photos! I love the eagles below too.

fishing guy said...

Willard: Beautiful shots of the Wild Turkey in the PA woods.

Babooshka said...

Always such incredible captures.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Wonderful information, Willard. We have a few flocks of wild turkeys around here but I find they are hard to shoot. They always see me first! These are wonderful photos.

Beautiful Creation said...

Amazing photos. Also very interesting info. They are beautiful creatures.

lv2scpbk said...

I seen three turkeys by the prison one time. (no, they weren't the prisoners. LOL.) Anyway, I pulled over to get a photo and they took off so fast couldn't get it.

Misty Dawn said...

Love these turkey photos. Some think turkeys are ugly, but I think they are awesome looking.

Carolina said...

Wonderful photos, i especially like the first two. Really beautiful.

MicheleRF said...

Great post and shots! I haven't had much luck photographing turkey. I think I've only seen them on sunny days and their heads are always overexposed. Guess I'll have to try some exposure compensation.
Thanks for sharing!
~Michele

Shellmo said...

I love seeing that mature gobbler all decked out - beautiful shot! Such a size difference compared to the jakes you showed.

T and S said...

Beautiful series Willard. The 2nd image with its incredible details is stunningly beautiful. I m sure it took you a while to get that close to that turkey

Old Wom Tigley said...

I always enjoy seeing your Wild Turkeys..... when I get to see such birds they are normally plucked, frozen and wrapped in plastic.....
This is the only way to really enjoy Turkey.. :O)

kjpweb said...

Hi Wil,
Excellent gobbling going on on your end.
Cheers, Klaus

imac said...

Great post Willard.

Its not a load of Gobblers.lol.

Stacey Huston said...

Stunning shots as always.. have been really busy here, slacked off on blogging for a while, but we are trying real hard to catch up.//