Friday, May 16, 2014

A Quartet Of Gobblers

Just a short time ago it was common, to see gobblers strutting and gobbling while courting the hens, but now it is becoming rare.  Today we will look at a few of my best gobbler photos taken this spring. In most cases I prefer to be very close to the birds, but the gobblers in the photos below are 150 yards away as measured by my Bushnell rangefinder.

Quartet Of Gobblers: Canon 5D MKIII-Canon 600mm F 4.0 IS L- ISO 400-1/250 sec - f 8.0
I began my session with the birds by using the 5D MK III camera body on the 600mm F 4.0 with 1.4X extender, but soon changed to the 7D body to take advantage of the 1.6 crop sensor. I have owned a 5D MK III since 2012 and I am still not certain if there is an advantage to  using the crop sensors for long range work or if one is better off using the full frame and cropping more in post production.  With that being said the photos shown today are not the best for comparison as they are cropped in post and  do not show what frame size and detail each camera captures at that distance. They are also cropped to different aspect ratios with two of them being 3:2 and two 4:5. In addition the sun was not out when I the 5D MK III and  it was in those that I used the 7D. Compared to the 7D, I can get sharp focus more reliably with the 5D MK III and it performs much better at higher ISO settings, but  the bottom line is that the 7D is still capable of excellent results even though it will soon have been out there for five years.

There are actually four gobblers in the photos below, but only three are plainly visible.  If one looks closer  you can see a rear view of the top of the tail of the fourth one in the first photo and a side view of the tail in the second.

Trio Of Gobblers: Canon 7D-Canon 600mm F 4.0 IS L- ISO 400-1/500 sec @ f 8.0
Attaching the 1.4x to the 600mm f 4.0 gives it a maximum aperture of 5.6 and I have found through  that sharpness is improved by stopping down to at least f 8.0.

Trio Of Gobblers-Pose 2: Canon 7D-Canon 600mm F 4.0 IS L- ISO 400-1/500 sec @ f 8.0
These photos were taken in mid-April.  I had an encounter with what I presume is the same four gobblers just eight days later--strutting and gobbling in the same spot and again I used the 7D.

Quartet Of Gobblers: Canon 5D MKIII-Canon 600mm F 4.0 IS L- ISO 400-1/400 sec - f 8.0
I have not seen the quartet for some time now, but the encounters I had with them will provide memories to treasure for years to come.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Since I love quartet singing,I wonder what song they were singing?

Dan Gomola said...

These are really nice Willard. Love all the gobblers together. I realized a pattern this spring. After the fight I photographed, I saw less and less groups of turkey. In the last month, I saw a lot of single hens running around. So, during mating season, do the hens split off on their own to be alone?

Willard said...


That does seem to be the case. At times I do see four or five hens together during gobbling season, but that is rare. Although several hens may come from different areas and converge on the same spot to feed, I do not think they are usually traveling together.

Once they have their young we will see the big flocks again. At times several sub-flocks travel together at least for a time and this can include bachelor groups of big gobblers. While it is common for me to see hens and young in the meadows during late July and August, it seems one has a better chance of seeing the combined flocks, with gobblers along with them, from September through spring the following year.

Linda Gross said...

I saw and photographed a turkey while in NC. I wish it would have strutted around like your turkeys! I suppose if more than just one turkey were around, I might have had a show. It will take a while before I am ready to write my blog post where you will see my turkey. Keep watching :-)

Lindsjö taxar said...

Great Pictures!
I dont know if I Think they are Beautiful or ugly :-)