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GREAT NORTH WOODS GOBBLERS
If someone had told me when I bought my land back in the early 90s, that I’d have up to 19 Wild Turkeys at my feeder someday, I would have told them they were CRAZY! At that time, Wild Turkeys in Minnesota were extremely rare outside of the very southeast corner of the state. “Besides,” I would have told them, “turkeys need acorns and open meadows…My land is pines and aspen and maple, very densely wooded.” Plus, I would have pointed out, they can’t survive in areas with deep snowpack. Good thing I didn’t make a wager!

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TURKEYS IN THE SNOW (NOT “TURKEYS IN THE STRAW”)
I first noticed Wild Turkeys in our neck of the woods a few years ago when I’d hear a distant Tom gobbling on clear and calm April mornings. He was far away…maybe a half mile or more back in the Schillo’s south field. And I recorded a small group on my trail camera. Then last year one or two made a couple appearances at our feeders, but never when we were home. This year, the floodgate opened. Up to 19 Wild Turkeys have foraged under our feeders this winter. I started throwing out buckets full of cracked corn. But they are extremely wary…and any motion inside the house often sends them scurrying for the shelter of the ravine.

TOM TURKEY DISPLAY VIDEO
The above video was taken from our living room while I was in my pajamas trying to balance the camera on a coffee table and a stack of books, all the while trying to keep Birk (4) and Bjorn (2) from jumping off the couch and shaking the video camera….That is why there is no audio..You wouldn’t want to hear it!

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SURFING WITHOUT A SURFBOARD
In late March, I got a big surprise when, not one, but TWO Toms began displaying right outside our picture window. A half dozen hens were feeding and seemed oblivious to the male’s full-on, fluffed-out display. The males would slowly circle each other and occasionally bump chests in slow motion. An occasional ruffle of the feathers is meant to impress. Then one morning, I saw a Tom displaying over a hen sitting in the snow. He eventually hopped up on her back and stood there for nearly ten minutes, all the while balancing on his precarious perch. Every time she made any movement, he had to react and respond to keep his balance. It was literally like watching a novice surfer on a surfboard. Impressive balancing act! Finally he hunkered down and she shifted her tail and the actual mating took place, lasting mere seconds.

Cottontail and Wild Turkey Skogstjarna Carlton Co MN IMG_5999The Cottontails, squirrels and turkeys all tolerated each other at the feeder. But each had their own personal space which could not be violated, lest they spook.

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Wild Turkeys at feeder Skogstjarna Carlton Co MN IMG_5938The morning spectacle (Above 2 images taken from our living room…Our feeders are about 18 feet from the house!).

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Wild Turkey Skogstjarna Carlton Co MN Wild Turkeys Skogstjarna Carlton Co MN IMG_5023WIDE ANGLE FUN
The two photos above were taken with a super-wide telephoto lens from snow level. How did I take these without spooking these spooky birds? I set my camera up on a mini-tripod outside where the turkeys usually fed. Then I used my remote trigger to release the shutter from inside the house. So I could sit in my easy chair drinking coffee and watching the morning news, and still be taking wildlife photos! But note that this is very low percentage shooting.

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**NOTE THAT ALL THESE PHOTOS WERE TAKEN FROM OUR LIVING ROOM! …THROUGH DOUBLE-PANED, KID-SMUDGED WINDOWS. DON’T LET PEOPLE TELL YOU THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER TAKE PHOTOS THROUGH YOUR WINDOWS.
[All taken with Canon 7D…Most taken with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens and camera set to Shutter Priority 1/500 second and auto-ISO. Wide angles taken with Sigma 10-20mm lens and remote trigger]

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