Micole Khemarrica (khromat) wrote,
Micole Khemarrica

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Wilderness in my backyard

Just the other day, I was astonished to see 7 wild turkeys ambling through our backyard. Now, supposedly wild turkeys are no longer native to New Jersey (at least, I can never find them in any Audubon Guide for the state), and our house is certainly firmly planted in Suburban Jersey, more towards the urban than the sub-rural end of that line.

Raised in the rather urbane suburban landscape of SoCal, I'm used to seeing small wildlife living in a tract-home habitat: finch, sparrow, pidgeon, mice, rats, squirrels, frogs, oppossum. It was a treat to spot some of the larger fauna that adapted to deal with human intrusion, like hawks, foxes, and coyote. You had to move farther out to the rural areas to spot things like deer, bobcat, cougar, or bear.

I've slowly become accustomed to see deer passing by my car while driving over the low hills in the area I now live in, and even saw one as close as a quarter-mile from the house along a creek. But there's still that tickle in the back of your head that says something's amiss when you see such large beasts as wild turkeys casually passing through your backyard. They all had the striking mottled pattern associated with males of the species, lean bodied with little wattling down thier beaks. They poked around the grapevines a bit, then one at a time, they hopped up the ladder that rested by our neighbors chain-link fence, then puffed up and fluttered over the fence to start strolling through his yard. (For those who don't know, turkeys are relatives of the pheasant and similar terrestrial-living birds. They can fly, but prefer not to, and usually only use their wings to give them extra jumping height or short bursts of airtime).

When I first moved out here, I remember spotting some turkeys wandering up the hill nearby, where there's a national momument park. This is definitely a different group, as the one I saw originally had several plump females, about half of them in the domestic-white feathering. At the time, I thought maybe a wild male had 'rescued' some hapless domestics and created a harem.... that troupe got spotted by several friends so I know I wasn't just imagining them. Now, we've got photographic proof of a different troupe 5 years later wandering through our yard, which is a good 3 miles (through some nasty unnatural barriers like highways) from the original sighting. Whee!

I love watching Nature thumb her nose at the human world. :D

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