Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Wild Turkey behaviour?

 MVFN Nature Notebook: What are these wild turkeys doing?

Recent sighting received February 6, 2017:

Lise Balthazar, Sheridan Rapids: Photos of wild turkeys.

They seemed to be ” having an argument . . .  It looks like they locked beaks and kept pushing each other, back and forth. I had never seen that behavior before: normally, there’s a dominant one who walks in circles around another turkey crouching on the ground. I am not sure who won this argument, as they disappeared into the woods. ”

Wild Turkeys. photo Lise Balthazar

Wild Turkeys. photo Lise Balthazar

Wild Turkeys 2. photo Lise Balthazar

Wild Turkeys 2. photo Lise Balthazar

Photos by Lise Balthazar

 

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2010 Bird counts show record numbers of wild turkeys and plenty of others

 

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

January 8, 2010

Carleton Place and Lanark Highlands Christmas bird counts sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists show record numbers of wild turkeys and plenty of others

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists sponsored two Christmas Bird counts (CBC) in Lanark County, the 59th Annual Carleton Place CBC and the 7th Annual Lanark Highlands count. Over two thousand such counts were held across North and South America, representing the largest citizen scientist activity anywhere in the world. All records are stored with the Audubon Society and used for research and conservation programmes.

These Lanark counts were both exceptional for the record number of wild turkeys seen. Common to both counts was the reduced number of winter finches (low or sharply reduced numbers of pine siskins, crossbills and pine grosbeaks). These northern boreal forest birds are likely finding adequate food further north this winter.

The 59th Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count took place on December 27, 2009 and was led by Iain Wilkes who was also the compiler. Georgina Doe led the feeder counts. Thirty-two field observers and 25 feeder counts took part during a day starting out with fog and clouds with temperatures hovering near zero after the freezing rain of Boxing Day. In all of 41 species were seen and 4562 individuals counted. This is down 7 species and approx. 500 individuals from the 2008 year. Many of the smaller rural roads were difficult to drive and significant surface ice on the road sides made it treacherous in places to pull over on the shoulder. The highlights were 2 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Grackles, 15 Red-winged Blackbirds and a record number of Turkeys at 285. There were a goodly number of Bohemians Waxwings at 159 and as well 500 Snow Buntings seen just outside Carleton Place. At the end of the day a count-in was held where the teams shared sandwiches and refreshments while compiling the results and trading stories of their days outing. Complete individual species recorded for the 2009 Carleton Place Count were:

Canada Goose (30), Mallard (9), Goldeneye (50), Hooded Merganser (2), Bald Eagle (2), Cooper’s Hawk (3), Red-tailed Hawk (5), Rough-legged Hawk (1), Ruffed Grouse (10), Turkey (285), Ring-billed Gull (3), Rock Pigeon (697), Mourning Dove (192), Downy Woodpecker (44), Hairy Woodpeckers (39), Pileated Woodpecker (8), Northern Shrike (3), Blue Jay (244), Crow (382), Raven (12), Chickadee (839), Red-breasted Nuthatch (9), White-breasted Nuthatch (76), Brown Creeper (4), Robin (7), Starling (417), Bohemian Waxwing (159), Tree Sparrow (46), White-throated Sparrow (3), Junco (43), Snow Bunting (515), Cardinal (28), Red-winged Blackbird (15), Rusty Blackbird (1), Grackle (3), Purple Finch (5), House Finch (8), Common Redpoll (10), Pine Siskin (30), Goldfinch (246), and House Sparrow (78).

Thirty-one birders took to the roads and fields for the 7th Annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count, held on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009 to register every bird seen or heard within the fifteen kilometre radius circle centered on Watsons Corners. The Lanark Highlands count was led by Cliff Bennett, with Bruce LeGallais, Bobby Clarke, Ted Mosquin, and Gloria Opzoomer heading up the sections. Marj Montgomery organized and compiled reports from over sixteen feeder counters, to add to the total. At the end of the count day, participants convened to Nature Lovers Book Store in Lanark for the count-in and hot beverages.
The previous record of 188 turkeys, set in last year’s count easily surpassed this year’s 288. The continued build-up of wild turkeys in the area is now evident as each year of the count produces greater numbers. Total count for the circle was 3154 birds, lowest only to the first Lanark Highlands count of 2829 in 2003. A few dozen (76) evening grosbeaks were found, mostly in the Poland area, two dozen purple finches and only four redpolls showed up and no pine siskins, crossbills or pine grosbeaks were found. In spite of the low numbers, records were set for downy woodpeckers (77), Cooper’s hawk (4) and white-breasted nuthatches (101). New to the count was a brown thrasher, which was hanging around a feeder because of an injured wing and one northern harrier. Last year set a record at 4130 birds. Number of species found this year remained high at 38, two down from last year’s record listing of 40 species. Complete individual species recorded for the Lanark Highlands count were:

mallard duck (1), common merganser (10), ruffed grouse (4), wild turkey (288), bald eagle (3), sharp-shinned hawk (1), northern harrier (1), Cooper’s hawk (4), red-tailed hawk , rough-legged hawk (1), rock pigeon (210), mourning dove (98), barred owl (1), downy woodpecker (77), hairy woodpecker (89), pileated woodpecker (7), northern shrike (2), blue jay (224), crow (97), raven (30), black-capped chickadee (897), red-breasted nuthatch (25), white-breasted nuthatch (101), brown creeper (3), golden-crowned kinglet (1), brown thrasher (1), starling (97), Bohemian waxwing (93), tree-sparrows, (87), dark-eyed junco (55), snow bunting (166), cardinal (7), purple finch (26), house finch (6), common redpoll (4), goldfinch (334), evening grosbeak (76), house sparrow (13).

 

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Wild Turkey Session Spawns Controversy

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Cliff Bennett
January 18, 2004

Wild Turkey Session Spawns Controversy  

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(Photo by: Tine Kuiper)

Several key issues emerged during question period following a presentation on the re-introduction of wild turkeys in Eastern Ontario at the monthly meeting of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, Thursday, Jan. 15 in Almonte. Guest presenter, videographer Franziska vonRosen, showed her noted Pinegrove Productions video entitled Reintroducing the Wild Turkey and MNR wild turkey specialist Scott Smithers followed up with a power-point presentation on the current status of the huge game bird in Lanark County and area.

Introduced by MVFN host for the evening Al Potvin, vonRosen told of the making of the video, indicating key features. She noted the drive to reintroduce wild turkeys to the area came from the Ontario Anglers and Hunters, supported by local fish and game clubs and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The initial purpose was to provide a game bird for hunting purposes.

Following the viewing of the video, Smithers presented copious statistics on the populations of wild turkeys in different areas leading up to the controversy related to the fact that, due to the success of the population growth, the birds have become a nuisance to farmers because of crop damage.

In the lively discussions following the presentations, a Rosetta farmer asked why farmers have to bear the brunt of the cost of damage to their crops all because some hunters want a new hunting experience. He indicated farmers are already suffering heavily from deer and Canada goose population explosions. In answer to another controversial question, Smithers indicated there was no historical evidence that wild turkeys existed in Lanark County prior to 1992 when the first ones were set loose, making the term re-introduction a misnomer.

After the quest speakers were thanked and presented with a gift of local honey products by Michael MacPherson and Jim Bendell, the discussions continued over refreshments. In the end, the protagonists agreed to disagree but all agreed there is a growing problem with wild turkeys and MNR has to act positively and soon, to remediate the situation.

The February 19 meeting of MVFN will feature a presentation on the black rat snake, which is on the endangered species list. Guest speaker will be MNR Biologist Shawn Thompson. For information about MVFN and its programmes, log on to mvfn.ca

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