To our readers based in the States (or at least hailing from the States) we extend a hearty Happy Thanksgiving! For those of you that do not officially celebrate this particular holiday, or at least maybe not at this point in the year, we wish you a Happy Thank’Em Day – basically a “Festivus for the Restofyou”. In the official Holiday, we typically adorn our tables with feasts of plenty anchored by the traditional plump, flightless domesticated Turkey. While partaking in said feast, we pay respect and gratefulness for those who helped us become what we are today, those that continue to keep us on the right path and for all those that we may never meet in person, but whose sacrifices, insights, creativity and other benefiting acts that contribute to our current state of living. Thank’Em Day is nearly equivalent. We still extend our appreciation for all the same things, just doesn’t include the bountiful feast (10 out of 10 Turkeys surveyed much prefer this alternative ha!).
Without further ado, I would like to start by giving my “Thank Yous” to our family. This has been a really tough year for Linda and I as we have both lost close and cherished family members. It’s the deep family bonds that really shine during these times and having their kind shoulders to lean on when times are darkest is the clearest definition of love. The same goes for our friends – some we’ve had the honor of building upon from childhood playgrounds, others gained later in life, all there to lend a hand when you need it, convert a frown to a smile, provide valuable advice when decisions need extra scrutiny and, for those in the close circle, even willing to ride along on a late night run to the “Train Station”.
And to our faithful Intrigued readers, many of them who have become dear friends over the years thanks to this forum, we want to let you know just how appreciated you are. Your interest in our tins and ramblings keeps us motivated in the field and continue to make this blog thingy just as exciting as it was when we started out nearly 16 years ago. Your kind comments and insights helped us to successfully grow the Wildlife side and will continue to guide us as we expand into more nature related themes.
None of this would be possible without Linda (shhhh, don’t tell her though) who is more often than not our field guide, bird whisperer, personnel transporter, trip planner, food provider and predator distracter … I mean LOOK OUT. My brother Ron is a huge contributor to Intrigued. Not only was he the inspiration for starting this whole blogging adventure, he’s always willing to head out into the field, helping to educate me on birds, assisting with difficult IDs, tick magnet and continually pushes me to improve my “skillz” (“You call that a picture of a bird, I painted better images with finger paints in kindergarten”). A heaping amount of gratitude to our Intrigued staff who toil away night and day to make us look good. (eh, with exception to our Pain-in-the-Ass lawyer pool ha). That includes a special thanks to Brad Marks (and his support staff) who recently came on board and is already giving us fantastic posts from his many adventures (not to mention catches a lot of my typos). Oh, and I can’t forget to express my appreciation for my intern (Linda “you can keep trying all you want, but I already told you a thousand times you are NOT getting an intern!!”) – think of that as a future shout out hehehehe.
Now for the most important thing I’m grateful for today ….
I actually have new pictures of Wild Turkeys for today’s post!
Hit the jump to find out some quick background on our honoree of the day!
I was getting pretty worried leading up to today – would I have to make another substitute for the featured feathered friend. Back in 2019 my queue was devoid of Turkeys and I had to call and audible with a Turkey Vulture (link here). Not the best substitute as hopefully no one EVER considers putting a Vulture in the middle of the feast – to my credit it did have Turkey in the name. Slight panic when I remembered the leucistic Turkey series was used last year (link here). Quickly ran to the digital darkroom to see what I could hunt up in the backlog.
Whew, managed to tin a few Wild Turkeys at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State park during our January trip to the Texas border. Not the best shots in the world due to their complete unwillingness to stop walking away every time the Beast was brought on point. Managed to run ahead and hide behind a tree to get a few approach shots before they saw me and turned back into the woods for good.
If that wasn’t frustrating enough, things got really confusing during processing. During the shoot, assumed I was shooting Toms purely based on the fact they had “beards” – for those who may not be aware, that is the longer spray of feathers sticking out from their lower necks. As the images were developing noticed the lack of strong red hues on the head which are also good indicators for the males. To the reference materials! Cornell’s website was of little help beyond confirming the more subdued coloring of the female and images of a male with the expected beard (not present on their female reference shots). Shockingly, they make zero reference to the beard even existing. Next up was some site called PetKeen (link here). This had more comic value to me than informative source. First laugh was the paw print symbols under the header image (Male Turkey vs Female Turkey … then paw prints hmmmm). Then another chuckle when they put a picture above the hens description that counters what their description below it says (no leg spurs, seldom beards and “blue-gray-colored heads with no red” yet their image has spurs, beard and red on the head).
My first specimen doesn’t appear to have spurs, second one does along with the third and what appears to be clearly a Tom in the shot above (on the left). All have beards so the mystery remained. Finally found the Sciencing site (link here). There they clarify that hen spurs are small (so apparently they do have them) and “Approximately 10 percent of hens possess a ‘beard'”. Sooo, my take is we have a couple of rare hen specimens (beyond the last shot), but open to any other opinions. Clearly there is room for improvement on the reference sites. Just because I know your lives would not be truly fulfilled without this piece of knowledge – hens can also be distinguished from Toms by the ‘J’ shape of their feces. My work here is done ha.
Thank you again for all your support over the years. The Intrigued family is truly appreciative of your time and interest in our efforts. Take care, travel safe and for those in the States, enjoy the holiday.