Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Survivors and Turkey Turds (for Robin Andrea & Mark)

With my recent surgery, I've been "mobility challenged" so I can't go for walks or take images.  Hopefully, that situation will improve over the next few weeks.

I'd mentioned previously that a hen turkey and her single "adolescent" chick (probably hatched in early August vs. a typical early May hatching) had been coming to my feeder to eat every morning.  They "survived" Thanksgiving, but I think I jinxed them.  On Friday after Thanksgiving, I photographed the pair at the feeder, but on Saturday I noticed a single hen mixed into an otherwise all-male flock...uh oh.  Yesterday, I noticed the same configuration of a single hen among two dozen toms.  Then, this morning, the hen came up to the feeder unaccompanied by her youngster.  I don't know what happened; we've had relatively mild weather, so I doubt that the adolescent succumbed to the elements.  I wonder if a Great Horned Owl could have picked it off its perch at night, or if the youngster fell victim to a coyote.
Follower Robin Andrea mentioned that she'd never seen turkey feces (that she recognized, anyway), and Follower Mark said that the feces of male and female turkeys twist in opposite directions, so I photographed a few examples.  When the turkeys have plenty of good stuff to eat, their feces look like those in the following images (gender unknown).  Most of the fibrous fecal matter is brownish or greenish, but there's a bit of white uric acid at one end.

If the turkeys don't have enough to eat, or if what they're eating is moist, or if they've drunk a lot of water, they produce feces like this one, which (trust me) is as slippery as a proverbial banana peel.


robin andrea said...

Thank you for these wonderful images of turkey feces. I feel so honored to have a post of scat with my name in it. LOL!

Hope your mobility improves and you can get out there and play.

robin andrea said...

I forgot to mention that the turkey scat reminds me a bit of goose scat. And, I hope the young turkey is just out and about and returns in good health. (I know, I'm a dreamer.)

packrat said...

How do they get the inch markings on those ruler-like scats, Scott?


Mark P said...

Now I'm pretty sure some of the poop I have seen is turkey poop. Both kinds. I haven't noticed the different spirals, but I probably haven't looked carefully enough.

Have you seen "My Life as a Turkey"? I saw it on PBS some time ago. It's the story of a man who raised a bunch of turkeys from eggs to maturity. They treated him as the turkey mama. It was actually quite moving.

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: The turkey scat DOES look a lot like goose feces, now that you mention it, but it tends to be drier (except for the feces that are blobs of wet slime, of course).

The hen and the "adolescent" turkeys have now both disappeared. I'm sure that something terrible befell the youngster, and the hen has probably joined the troupe of males for the winter.

Scott said...

Packrat: Very good, smart aleck!

Scott said...

Mark: I HAVE seen "My Life as a Turkey". (PBS tends to broadcast it each year around Thanksgiving, as they did on my station this year.) It is quite moving, but ultimately I found it unsatisfying as a "story" because there's no closure about the fate of the tom. Of course, the same thing happens here, too, so I shouldn't expect it on television, either. We recently had a tom that was blind in one eye (we called him One Eye--how original, huh?) He hung around for food for months, but it was too easy to approach him on his blind side. I'm sure that some lucky predator got the tom when the predator approached on his weak flank.