Turkeys In The Snow
Harland, my farmer/photographer/volunteer fireman/husband has more free time in the winter than any other time of the year. So a few weeks ago, he decided he would like to photograph turkeys up close and personal. Not too far from where we live is a wooded area near a lake. First he set up one of those motion sensitive cameras that you attach to a tree and it takes pics when triggered by movement. The camera showed there were a lot of turkeys, deer, and the occasional coyote. He was hoping for Bigfoot, but so far he hasn’t showed himself, or herself. Next, Harland went over there every couple days to throw some corn around to get the turkeys in the habit of visiting a particular clearing in the woods. That got old, so then he ordered an automatic feeder that shoots out corn twice daily. Then he set up a blind that he could sit in to take pictures in anonymity. He’s in the witness protection program and doesn’t want the turkeys to recognize him. Whoops, forget I said that.
Then one morning, he got up earlier than usual, dressed in the required 15 pounds of winter clothing, grabbed his camera gear, portable gas heater, and something to eat and drink, and took off. Later that day, I got an email from him at work showing beautiful close-up pictures of turkeys. Ack! I wanted to take pics of them too! So Harland bought a chair blind for me and set it up in the woods so the turkeys could get used to it.
And finally, last Saturday morning, we got up at 6am, ate a quick bite, loaded up our camera equipment, and were out the door before 7am. We drove over to the wooded area, hauled in our equipment, got all set up, crawled into our blinds which are situated side by side, and waited. We could hear clucking off to the south of us, and soon a large flock came in to feed on the corn.
They hung out for about an hour, rested,
and fluffed out their feathers to stay warm.
This one stretched out her wing and leg.
Ahhh….that feels good.
They noticed our blinds, could hear our camera shutters going off, and would stare occasionally.
But they weren’t alarmed. Unless animals can make out your outline, they aren’t aware of what you are. So no worries.
“Hey Betty, I’m pretty sure those 2 humans weren’t in those blinds yesterday.”
“I know Louise, the male human has been here several times, but I haven’t seen the female human before.”
“Why are they cramped up in those blinds Betty?”
” I dunno. Humans do some pretty strange things.”
The flock moved on, and soon, another flock showed up. I have to say that turkeys have a face that is best admired from a distance.
It was below freezing that morning, and when not walking around, they would raise one foot up to their chest feathers to warm it.
I had never been this close to turkeys before. They are pretty fascinating to watch.
We stayed until about 10am, and if it had been a little warmer, we probably would have stayed longer. We plan on going back as the weather warms into spring to get pictures of the males doing their spring courting display. If I can get some pics of that, I’ll certainly share with you then.
———> UP NEXT: One smart turkey decides to outwit the automatic corn feeder.
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Great pictures! I’m anxious to see the corn feeder setup tomorrow! I hope you are planning to come up and see the Sandhill Cranes on the Platte River in Nebraska within the next month or so, and make reservations to sit in one of the blinds near the river. You will be just as close as you were to the turkeys. The only difference is that the cranes are constantly chattering, and with thousands of them in earshot, it gets pretty noisy, unlike the peaceful morning you spent with the turkeys!
Hi Pam K.
What would be the best time or place to see the sandhills when there aren’t a lot of people around?
Nice shots! I have never seen a wild turkey up close before..they are so homely!Poor things. But they are so smart to warm their feet like that..who knew? Keep up the good work and tell Harland thanks too. I liked the video also.
That is sooo cool! lol You guys know how to have fun. I’ve never seen a wild turkey so close up before – only roosting in trees. Their feathers are pretty; looking closely, I can see different colors.
Suzanne, thanks for the wonderful pics and video of the turkeys. I have never seen them that close up!Their heads aren’t pretty but the colors in their feathers really is.
Hi Chester’s Mom,
You’re welcome, and thank you!
Wow! Great photos! I too have never been up close to them. You sure are right about them being ugly animals. Cool video. I was starting to get cold just watching the video. Ha ha!
Harland sure does have all the equipment. Motion triggered camera. Automatic feeder. Portable gas heater. Only in America. Maybe you could give us an understanding of Kansas with some photos of a Kansas farmers workshop. Or maybe that is too sacred ground.
So exciting…wish I could have been there. You got some great shots!! Can’t wait to see the ones in the Spring.
Thanks for sharing the recent snow photos and turkey photos. Have enjoyed it alot. Take care and stay warm.
You’re very welcome!
That behavior reminds me so much of my geese. They are always doing goose ballet (aka stretching the wing and leg) and tucking a foot up. Your pictures are just wonderful!
I used to have pet parakeets and they did the same thing too. Must be a standard bird thing.
Wow, a face only a mother can love huh? We see quite a few turkeys around our place since we live in the country with some woods nearby. We had two deer cross our path today on the way into town which really excited our little girl but then again she gets just as excited to see the squirls, bunnies and even the birds in our yard. We have had a fox visit us the last two years… great as long as it stays away from my kitties and last winter my husband called me on the cell phone from our driveway & told me to look out our front window – there was a bald eagle on the other side of our valley…beautiful!
You got some great shots,can’t wait to see the one with the feeder!
Patty P.S. made the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pudding Cake, YUM!
We very seldom see bald eagles here, so you are so lucky to see one near home like that.
Glad you enjoyed the cake! Thank you!
Personally, I think Turkeys are beautiful. Not their faces, but their iredescent feathers. When you look at them, you see all the colors of the rainbow. They just glisten. Your photos caught that. I’m a turkey hunter with my DH. It’s as much fun watching them as it is hunting them. Lovely pictures!
Absolutely. Before the sun rose, they just looked brown, but as the morning sun lit up their feathers, they burst into a rainbow of iridescent colors. Amazing.
Great pictures! They’re really pretty birds – I find their eyes beautiful.
That kinda surprised me how pretty their large brown eyes are, in contrast to their not so attractive faces.
The best time to find fewer people here would be during the week, definitely not weekends, when the rural roads are packed with traffic! You can see cranes flying or feeding in the meadows at anytime of the day near the Platte, mainly south of I-80 in the Grand Island to Kearney area. But the tours, where you have a guide who gives lots of interesting info and get to sit in their private blinds and get up close to the cranes, are at dawn and dusk every day, and cost $25. They are well worth it! I heard there are a few cranes coming in already, so you should see a good selection of birds at any of the dates below. Be sure to make reservations for the blind tours, as they are usually filled by the date they take place.
Nebraska Nature and Visitor Center—March 4-April 6
Rowe Sanctuary—March 5-April 10
You can see a great map here showing the two nature centers, as well as other specific viewing areas. You can see a lot of other water fowl (variety of ducks and geese) at the Harvard WPA, east of Hastings.