Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mating Season (2)

I believe the pheasants have successfully mated and moved on to nesting. We've also got a pair of Canada Geese on the large pond, and our ducks have settled in on the small pond. I'm surprised by how much those geese bug me. I don't want a flock of geese around-- it's completely suburban of me. I remember how Canada geese became a nuisance in the northern and western suburbs of Chicago, "golf course geese" that left their green poop everywhere, until you couldn't walk around in parks and even on lawns without it covering your shoes. They did manicure the lawns quite nicely, however. Everyone assures me that there are often geese who have a small brood of chicks out here, but they always move on. We won't be overrun.

Despite all this successful action, there is a poor tom turkey who has been working his tail off to get laid seemingly with no luck at all. Of course, I don't know what happens in the high grass of the wetlands, but all week we watched this guy strut his stuff. The tom is a large bird, and when he's puffed out with his tail feathers fanned, he looks exactly like the old storybook pictures of the Thanksgiving turkey. When I was growing up we had a cardboard cut-out decoration like this, and I never tired of studying its detail and pleasing shape.

The hens-- at the beginning of the week there was one but she was soon joined by another-- are, of course, smaller, with no distinguishing flourishes except the waddle they drag along the ground. In the morning they are out in the new grass where we had the burn, grazing. They do not even look up at the tom who is putting on such an elaborate show for them. They are intent on one thing, eating.

To his credit, he doesn't actively pursue, keeps a respectful distance, relying no doubt on his elaborate plumage and glorious size to do the work. It's almost like he's saying, "If you don't want me for me, I'm not going to make you. What woman could possibly resist?" And also like he's saying, "Maybe if I puff out my feathers just a little bit more, she'll see me and love me." But these female turkeys are as aloof as they come.

Or maybe they're just hungry.
(note: the photo above is a stock photo, though he looks a lot like our turkey!)

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