Lorene is one of the females, although she could very well be two or three females and I just call them all Lorene because it is very hard to differentiate females. Males are easier, particularly in feather display during mating season. The video above--or to the side-- shows a flock of males who came by looking for females last spring. And the picture above that one is the male who is in love with Lorene--- the Brad Pitt of Turkeys whom I've named Harold. Harold does not linger around my yard, he arrives, he goes after Lorene. Going after a female in the world of Turkeydom is not aggressive, but, instead, passive, gorgeous and patient, patient, patient. The male display of feathers and inflamed snood (over the beak) and wattle (the red, sometimes purple skin on the neck) is amazing to watch. It's a lovely, beautiful and most importantly peaceful dance. As is common in the avian world, the female is in control of mating. This makes evolution managed entirely by females. This is particularly true in the Turkey world. The female Turkey chooses her mate and can freely back out of the deal at any time (or this is what I observed.). There is no rape in the Turkey world. If the female says no, then it's no. I will discuss mating later, though, because it is.. Just. So. Fascinating! It requires an entire few blog posts to discuss.
The picture above is of the wonderful Lorene and her amazing babies. She started out with five, now it's merely three and I fear they will not survive the Hawk migration season. I have my fingers crossed.
Before I move on, I'd like to add my thoughts on bird intelligence. I think cognitive ability is a relative concept. That is true not only in the human world, but also, IMO, in the bird world. While the Turkey has a reputation for having a rather limited I.Q., I don't believe they are dumb birds. They are actually quite astute in many ways. Assessing brain competence depends upon what you are looking at--survival, emotional control, intuition, creativity? My observations have revealed, an incredibly intuitive and alert bird. The females usually raise the young in matriarchal flocks, but Lorene has managed alone. She runs from the other females who actually try to find her, bring her and the babies into their flock. Or maybe they are chasing her for nefarious reasons. I do not understand their motivations. All I know is what I see. And I see her running from the other female Turkeys, the babies running after her, the flock chasing them. Based upon my readings, this behavior is unusual. This chase tells me there's a story. And when there's a story, there's a degree of emotional and social intelligence. The fact that she insists on raising them alone says she has seen something, experienced something, remembered it and acts accordingly. It tells me she is a very concerned and devoted mother.
Lorene and her babies--even the other "Aunties" who chase her and come around pecking at fallen seeds under my bird feeder-- are, usually, very peaceful and generous birds. I've never seen them bully any other bird, even though they could easily do damage with their long fingered talons and powerful legs. The other birds keep a distance, but are not fearful of them. They make low subtle noises but are mostly quiet and shy. Well, the females are quiet. Mating season is another story. Males are very loud!
Their competence and peaceful natures inspired my name for them-- Buddhist birds.
I like to write about people, animals, dogs. I enjoy ideas, good books about ideas, funny books about ideas, funny people who have ideas, advocates for people who don't have voices to express their ideas, and animals who have ideas we can't understand.