If you are a fan of flocks of wild turkeys, you should feed them frequently. They seem to like cracked corn and safflower seed, although I think that in the midst of this brutal winter, they would be happy to see anything resembling a seed.
One thing to remember: if you feed them, they will stay. As a child, I was constantly being warned not to feed stray cats and dogs. Once I did, I was informed, they would become pets whether I wanted them or not. I wanted them all, every stray cat and dog that wandered anywhere near my house. I can’t say the same, however, for the flock of turkeys that have taken residence in our back yard.
The first sighting of them was a thrill. Imagine! Fifteen wild turkeys wandering around the bird feeders excited to discover we cared enough to feed them. They may have been deceived into thinking the seed was actually intended for them, not the wonderful variety of birds we really wanted to feed.
The second day they returned, it was still a novelty. They liked the seed we put out. We were a success! We began to spend far too many hours each day checking the back yard, looking for the turkeys. They began to come mornings and then early afternoons.
We took a trip over the weekend to visit my daughter in New Jersey. We were gone three days, but we left some extra seed out before we left. I called my neighbor to tell her it would be her job to tend for our new pets while we were gone. She was as fascinated by the turkeys as we were, and she was also spending a lot of time looking out her sliding glass doors, hoping they would come to her feeders.
We returned home too late to check the feeders on Sunday, but on Monday we began to look for them. It started to snow overnight, and the next morning snow was falling steadily on what little bit of seed may have been left on the ground. No turkeys came that day. Part of me was hoping they had moved on to better feeding grounds. Many of the houses in our development have bird feeders in their back yards, so they should have many choices of eating places. They were leaving quite of bit of bird poop all over the yard, so maybe it was time for them to go.
However, this morning there they were. Where once we had counted fifteen turkeys, lately we only found thirteen. Maybe we had counted wrong, I thought. Or maybe something had happened to two of them. They tended to stay together as a group; one even seemed to be in charge, watching them as they left the yard and wandered back into the woods, the last one to leave. He seemed to be the guard or maybe he was the leader, appointed either because he was larger than the others or maybe just because he was male.
So tomorrow we will have to buy more seed. We will continue to feed them as long as the winter remains in full force! Once the snow melts, they can find their own food. Maybe in another month they will be gone. Spring will bring different birds; the sight of the first robin (not just the winter ones) will bring hope for happier times.
Still, the turkeys have brought to us their own dose of joy. They are a huge, tight-knit group, brought close together by their need for food and maybe safety. They are welcome to stay until our hope for spring with its warmth and sunshine brings to us comfort of a different kind.