Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Plethora of Poults

A Wild Turkey hen and poults foraging along a gravel trail.
They really seem to like the ripening wineberries (Rubus phoenicolasius), and so do I!

Our large population of "Wild" Turkeys has produced a bumper crop of chicks this year, even in spite of the Cooper Hawks that patrol the airways and the coyotes that prowl the meadows.  The successful veteran hens have learned that there's safety in numbers, and group their individual families together.  It's not unusual to see three hens accompanied by 15 poults strolling the preserve.

I've had a difficult time getting a good image of the aggregated groups so far.  If I take out my camera to take a shot, they warily move into tall vegetation.  However, once the hens get hungry and come to the birdseed that I put out for them, the poults will soon follow and become more comfortable in my presence.  If tradition holds, by autumn the adolescent poults will practically knock on the back door for food.


Grizz………… said...

Wow! A combined group of 15 or more poults—that's quite a flock. Guess I didn't realize hens and their offspring would gang up, though I don't know why not since I see such numbers of adult birds. But, I've never actually lived within sight of where turkeys are nesting and raising offspring; there are wild turkeys not too far from here (4-5 miles) but not actually along the river corridor.

John Gray said...

as someone who has raised poults
I enjoyed this post.... they are deicate sensitive little souls that grow up into beasts!!!

Scott said...

Grizz: It seems as if the only females that are successful are the ones that group-up to fend off predators. The single moms lose one chick a day in my experience: I've seen a family dwindle from 12 chicks to two, one, or none over the course of two weeks as the predators pick off the chicks day after day. It's so disheartening--both for me and the hen (I imagine).

John: You're right; the poults are so innocent, helpless and vulnerable for the first month or so, then they start to feel their oats. By the time the winter is over and next spring arrives, they're fully mature birds ready to take their rightful place in the larger flock.

By the way, a friend of mine told me of research he'd read about the protective instincts of the hens. It seems that the hens will attack anything that moves near their chicks as a potential predator, but they won't attack if the animate object "cheeps" (as the chicks do. When hens were rendered deaf as part of the experiment, they would attack and peck their own chicks to death because they couldn't hear them, and they assumed they were predators. Interesting, huh?

Gail said...

HI SCOT - we have lots of wild turkeys too - mostly down the road near the bigger farm field - they make quite a 'squabble'! :-)
hope your Summer is going well. It is not my favorite season but Fall is coming, phew.
Love Gail

Scott said...

Gail, Have you seen poults with your group down the road there in Connecticut? My group of three hens with 15 poults seems to have moved on here; now, two hens with one poult between them, and one hen with one poult have been coming to my feeder expecting service. The poults are still pretty wary--they run away into high vegetation while their mothers eat, but they eventually come out to share the bounty with their moms before the squirrels and chipmunks run them off.

Summer's my least favorite season, too, though winter's starting to gain some ground there, I have admit. Nevertheless, my summer's going as well as expected.