Rounding the corner from the stairway to the kitchen at 6am, dark forms in the field garnered my attention before I had a chance to start the coffee.
What to my wondering eyes should appear but three Tom Turkeys in full display and one deer.
Momma deer looked up from browsing, almost as if she was aware of my presence behind the windows and at a bit of a distance, but the turkeys didn’t care.
They had a much more pressing issue to deal with than the fact that I had just arisen and was gawking. The hen of their utmost attention needed to stop her nit (or was it tick?) picking and look up for a change.
Despite her elusive demeanor, the three continued to display, certain she’d notice one of them.
In turkey terms, to display means standing upright with tail feathers fanned out, wings dragging, and fleshy wattles on the neck, throat, and snood above the beak swollen and bright red. So, to the latter, watch their wattles and snoods as Jen the hen moved back and forth across the field like a tease.
The Toms tried lining up as if to say, “Pick me.”
She told them to take a number. And maybe she’d get back to them when she felt like it.
Two of them began to scuffle in the background, their sense of social distancing far outweighed by their desire for Jen. The third, much more mature Tom, took advantage of that moment to strut his stuff without any competition.
When the other two figured out what he was up to, they quickly scurried over and let their wattles and snoods speak for them. Like an officer checking on his brigade, she did do an inspection. It appeared mature Tom just wasn’t turned on.
And then her friend, Skipper, walked out from the edge of the woods and examined the Toms to see if he could offer any tips.
Again, Jen turned back and as she crossed before the trio once more, they again showed off their excitement.
Still she didn’t seem to care and instead moved over to ask Skipper his thoughts.
But all Skipper really wanted to do was play.
And eat. Meanwhile, the Toms turned as if in a huff.
Apparently Skipper then suggested two of the three as possibilities to Jen and they began to skirmish.
Necks locked together, they moved back and forth as mature Tom watched.
And their molting deer friends browsed nonchalantly behind them.
That is, until Skipper decided that what the Toms were doing looked like play and so he wanted to get into the act.
The scuffle continued across the field first to the left.
And then center stage.
And finally to the right. Meanwhile, Jen and the deer disappeared and mature Tom . . .
paced while the other two continued to fight.
Eventually he took it upon himself to try to separate them but the last I knew they were still at it as they scrambled over a stone wall and into the woods a half hour after beginning their show of dominance. Later, after sipping finally brewed coffee, I went up into the field and then through the woods looking for any evidence of their frenzied behavior but found none.
I did make two other great finds today, however. At the vernal pool behind us, life is beginning to take shape within the egg masses.
And at another vernal pool, this one on Greater Lovell Land Trust property, I scooped up a fairy shrimp.
Call it mere luck, I prefer to think of it as bestowed gifts that upon this day that we honor the Earth, the Earth gave back. She always does, thankfully.
10 thoughts on “Earth Day 2020”
Wow! What a sight. And egg masses at last. Thanks for the close-up of the fairy shrimp. I have never seen one.
From Susan Gilpin
Yes, Susan, the ice went out on the vernal pool I frequent about April 4 or 5th and by the 6th there were “wrucking” woood frogs and plenty of egg masses. The salamanders arrived about two weeks later. So glad to be able to share a fairy shrimp–such an incredible critter. Having just one fairy shrimp in a vernal pool makes it significant in the eyes of the state of Maine.
Until I read this, I had been feeling pleased with a very handsome young tom turkey who displayed to his lady friends at 6.30am today. I got up too late, it would seem… What an amazing way to start your day, I am deeply jealous, and very grateful that you had your camera ready and could show it all to us.
Too funny, but we live in the same corner of the world. Have you ever seen the toms behave like this before? It was a first for me.
Dang!!! What a gathering! 🙂
Crazy, indeed 😉
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What a morning! You gave the story a lot of drama, I couldn’t wait to scroll down to see what happened next. 🙂
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I just wish I knew how it ended, JinMe.
What a great story for Earth Day. I was on the edge of my seat!! Such drama! Beautiful. Oh yes and Skipper was cute. 😉
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You’re just thinking of our Skipper 😉
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