On that nesting instinct


Doesn’t she look cozy?

Our girl turkey, Ruby, has gone broody.  Nothing would make us happier than if all the hard work of sitting on a nest for 28 days actually yielded a turkey poult or two, but I’m not overly hopeful.  I don’t know how effective our tom, Earl, has been as far as mating goes:  Ruby hasn’t been the most cooperative of mates, you see.  She’s a flighty girl all around.

So flighty, actually, that finding her nest was something of a challenge!  Every day she’d fly out of the pen with the geese, in search of fresh greens and general mischief (well, mischief is something the geese excel at, whereas Ruby just kind of tags along, hanging with “the bad crowd”).  At one point in her time out of the pen, she found a nesting site, and for longer and longer periods, she’d simply be “gone,” apparently sitting.  That time stretched into a longer and longer period until last Friday when she didn’t return to the pen at all.  Huh.

Saturday morning came, afternoon, evening; snow threatened for Sunday so we moved her, and her clutch of 7 eggs, to the goose/turkey egg hutch (mostly ignored by the intended poultry; the guineas, though, love it and it’s there that I find their three eggs a day).  She’s been sitting ever since.

It is interesting to note that, for the first time in many years, wild turkeys have been spotted in and around the area.  About a month ago I noticed the geese and turkeys running in their pen, very agitated; I went outside and saw twelve, maybe 15, wild turkeys in the field just behind their pen.  Whooshwhooshwhoosh, all the wild birds flew away, gigantic brown birds, without a peep or a sqwawk amongst them.  A few days later two wild toms ran in front of my car as we went into town for some errands, and then, last week, I saw Ruby in the same field behind her pen with…two toms!  She was chasing them, though.  Can I tell you how gigantic these birds are?  They look easily to be 1.5 times the height of Earl, which means they’d come up to my waist, easily.

So I do not know if Ruby was tramping around or if she was merely being territorial; I suppose time will tell if those eggs yield some wild-looking poults.

13 responses to “On that nesting instinct

  1. Wouldn’t that be cool! Turkey chicks, perhaps half wild. Odd though that your wild turkeys are so large. We have lots of wild turkeys here, but they’re quite slender and small compared to your average broad-breasted white. I’ve always thought they wouldn’t much be worth hunting as they looked like there wouldn’t be much there to eat. I’m not familiar with the size of heritage breeds though, so perhaps that’s what you’re comparing them to…

  2. Funny you should mention wild turkey. We live in St. Clair County, MI. Somewhere between Marine City and Marysville, in the country. Been here 13 years and never saw a wild turkey. But 2 weeks ago, 4 showed up. 2 Toms and 2 Hens. They have claimed about 20 acres as thiers. They have set patterns to what they do everyday. And they come right up to our back door. Free intertainment!!! We don’t raise critters, but we do garden big time. So we will see if I will be chasing turkeys out of our garden this year. The garden is like free money to us. We love doing in, eating it, canning it, and selling it-so the turkeys will have to learn to stay out!!!
    Have a great day!! By the way, it is snowing here. We had big time rain and now lots of wet, heavy snow. Springtime in Michigan, gotta love it!!

  3. That is too funny! Ruby tramping it with 2 wild Toms..lol. Don’t they always say the young ladies are always attracted to the bad boys? I sure was. You go Ruby!

  4. Hurray, baby turkeys running about. Feel free to pack any extras off to Missouri; turkeys are on my list for this year.
    The queen has started laying again, so I have goose eggs again. Life is good.

  5. Maybe they’ll be half wolf!

  6. One day, checking the chicken coop I found one less hen. We do have coyotes.

    About 3 weeks later what should appear but said hen with SEVEN baby chicks (oxymoron, I know)! How exciting….I have no idea where she was all that time. Probably under the coop.

    Read (if you haven’t) ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’, by Barbara Kingsolver. She raised turkeys. She counted the days of gestation and forced herself to be patient. Even though her turkey went (waaaay) beyond the calculated hatch date she eventually hatched 10 babies…very exciting.

    Great book, too.

  7. Oh! How cool is that? Our turkey hen is a flighty thing too. And so far…..not going broody. Not even laying!! Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans.

  8. I know, Kate, I was kind of surprised how huge these guys were: I seem to remember wild ones in Minnesota that were more petite. And yeah I am comparing them to heritage birds, but heritage means they’re closer to their wild ancestors than their big-breasted fellows so I am not quite sure. All I know is Earl is easily 25 pounds perhaps more and is always puffed up so he looks big all the time but the visitors were stately and towered over Ruby.

    Ah Grandmabecker, how fun for you! I am sure if you had a fence they’d probably stay out. And I am so with you on the “free money” of the garden, goodness! Absolutely. I had to look up where you were, and you’re waaay over there so hi! I heard you guys got lots of snow. We got a dusting but it was most unwelcome.

    I’m telling you, Christy, she definitely hangs with the wrong crowd by hanging out with those tough geese, leaving poor Earl behind in the pen to puff up and pace the poor dear. But I really think she was chasing off the wild ones unless of course she was playing hard to get.

    Pamela, that’s great that they’re on your list! They are really sweet birds. And I am glad to hear about the Queen. I have no true idea where our geese are laying either; I really should trim their wings the sneaks.

    Oh CC maybe only coyote! Though the local puma has done in some goats lately…

    Petunia, how cute! You must have been so pleased to see her, and here she goes, bringing you friends too! You know, I chose the same kinds of turkeys as BK but it was really because my husband’s people are from that area of Kentucky so I thought it fitting; I forgot about the breed she had until I reread that book. Yeah, I know: I will be really patient with her, she sure is being patient so I can only return the favor!

    Hey Angie, how did that happen? Your jenny was laying earlier than mine! Kooky birds. I hope she changes her mind. I do know though that once she has a pile, it triggers her sitting instinct. Can you get some brown wood eggs from the kid kitchen section at Target and try to trick her?

  9. oh! i am so excited for Ruby! I hope she settles on those eggs, how fun to have baby poults and maybe half wild ones at that. cant wait to see how its pans out

  10. Wild turkeys in SW MI?!?! Awwww…I want them here in NE IL too!!! Isn’t nature wonderful??

    I’m always feeling so depressed when I hear the news stories of this ice bridge melting or some other glacier sliding away & I think that we’re quickly going to hell in a hand basket fast, climate-wise. And then here you have a wild native species like the turkey showing up in your yard!! I’m positively gobsmacked!

    What would happen if your Ruby were to mate with one of these wild ones?? I wonder what the poults would look like…

    BTW, your description of Ruby hanging out with the wrong crowd conjured up mental images of turkeys & geese in black leather motorcycle jackets with little cigarettes hanging from their beaks. Thanksgiving will never be the same for me now!!

  11. I had to laugh at Ruby tramping around! What a hoot!


  12. Riana, I can’t wait either! That natural instinct has really hit her hard and she’s not moving. Not eating either which concerns me: she’s the most food-motivated of all our critters. I suppose she knows what is best, though. So, mid-May we’ll all know if she’s sitting on duds or not…

    Laurene, yeah, isn’t it good news? Wild turkeys of course aren’t terribly rare but according to our birding neighbors (they do the Christmas census and have life lists of what birds they’ve seen) there haven’t been any in this particular area for years. I always wonder if they live here or if they’re moving through, like that 15 head herd of deer we saw about 2 months ago (thankfully just moving through the cloven-hoofed devils).

    Linda, I know: she’s so easily influenced! She needs more positive role models. Maybe motherhood will mend her ways.

  13. At some time during the 1970s wild turkeys were re-introduced to the area of Northern California where I live and they have done so well as to become a nuisance for the rural dwellers.

    I shall hope for the same for you all (minus the nuisance part.)

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