November 19, 2008
- Wild Turkey
- More Turkey Photos
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
Shy, wary birds, wild turkeys are a woodland bird that prefers mixed areas of forest and farmland. They are social creatures, usually found in flocks. With keen hearing and superb eyesight, they can cleverly hide when danger approaches. Wild turkeys are excellent fliers, able to reach speeds of 40 to 55 mph over short distances when necessary. Usually, however, they prefer to walk or run to escape danger. At dusk, turkeys fly into trees to roost and spend the night. An entire flock may roost in a single tree or in a number of nearby trees.
Male turkeys are called gobblers or toms and are distinguished from females by more brightly colored feathers, long spurs that they use for fighting and beards that are 5 to 12 inches long. Wild turkeys eat a variety of food which changes with the seasons. In spring and summer, the turkey's diet consists of plants, insects, snails, grasshoppers and fruits. From late summer into the fall, turkeys eat beechnuts, acorns, grapes, corn and oats. During the winter months, they rely on what is left over from the fall. Using their sharp claws, wild turkeys are able to dig through up to six inches of snow to find food.
The wild turkey disappeared from New York State in the mid-1800s due to uncontrolled hunting and clearing of forests. Today, after decades of active restoration projects, the wild turkey is one of America's greatest success stories. Nationally, wild turkey populations have increased from around 450 thousand 50 years ago to more than 3.5 million in 1990.
Send us an e-mail and tell us what you think about Outdoor Discovery.
Calcium is the most important mineral involved in making bones hard and strong. Without calcium, bones become rubbery and flexible. To see what bones would be like without calcium, try this experiment: after your Thanksgiving meal, take some long, thin bones from the turkey carcass. Put several bones into a tall container filled with vinegar. Cover the container with plastic wrap and let it sit for three days. The vinegar will leach the calcium from the bones. Remove the bones from the vinegar and test to see if they can bend. If they are really flexible, tie the bones into a knot and let them dry. If they aren't flexible enough, replace the vinegar and let them sit a few more days before you try knotting them again.
Fall Treasure Hunt
During the fall, there are still plenty signs of summer and the harvest outside. Take a nature walk and see if you can find the following things before the first snow covers them up:
-Dried weed or pod
For an extra challenge, see if you can identify which type of tree each of the leaves came from. Make an autumn decoration using the items that you found.
The oak tree is an important part of the turkey's diet-they love acorns as a favorite treat. Find a several whole oak leaves and other leaves of a variety of colors. Look for acorns under an oak tree and collect a few. You will also need an old CD (you are even recycling with this project), some orange and red felt or construction paper, craft eyes and glue.
Take two or three whole oak leaves and glue them to the CD like a turkey's feathers. Crumble the other colored leaves and glue them to the front of the CD in a mosaic pattern. Glue the acorn to the front of the CD for the turkey's head and add the eyeballs. Cut out the orange and red felt to make the beak, gobble and feet and glue them onto the turkey. Put some red or gold ribbon through the hole in the CD and tie in a knot to hang from a window. The CD turkey will sparkle in the sun, the same way a turkey's feathers show different colors when the sun shines on them.
Check out Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Leave it to Beaver
Saturday, November 22 at 2:00 PM
Join a Stony Kill naturalist on a walk to our active beaver colony and beyond to investigate the signs beaver leave behind and how they get ready for winter.
Saturday, November 29 at 2:00 PM
Visit our barn and meet the turkeys that made it past Thanksgiving! Learn how domestic turkeys compare to their wild relatives, and about the adaptations wild turkeys need to survive the coming winter.
Reptiles in Winter
Saturday, November 22 at 2:00 PM
Meet some live animals up close as we discuss how reptiles and amphibians deal with the cold and stress of winter.
Thursday, November 20 from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM
It's that time of year when our thoughts turn to turkeys. DEC Wildlife Biologist Michael Schiavone will teach us about the natural history and habits of the wild turkey. At the end of the program, each participant can make a turkey call to take home. Cost: $2 per person/$5 per family. Please call 518-456-0655 to register.
Gifts from Nature
Friday, November 28 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Stop by the Discovery Center for an afternoon of craft making using items found in nature. We will be making twig posters, pine cone picture frames and leaf prints. Cost: $2 per person/$5 per family. Please call 518-456-0655 to register.
Porcupines at Cush Hill
Saturday, November 22 at 10:00 AM
Find traces of the elusive porcupine in its habitat at Cush Hill. You will have the opportunity to learn about its remarkable system of defense and life history. Please call to register: 607-674-4017. Meet in the main parking lot.
Blue Bird and Bat Boxes
Saturday, November 29 at 11:00 AM
Put a roof over the head of a bat or bluebird by building a box for the animal of your choice. A whole variety of other creatures may call these boxes home, such as house wrens, tree swallows, chickadees or possibly even mice! Please bring a hammer. There is an $8.00 fee for each box that you take home.
Advance registration is required for the following programs. Call 716-683-5959.
In the Rut
Saturday, November 22 at 3:30 PM
Learn about the white-tailed deer of Reinstein Woods and see the behavior patterns of bucks and does during the breeding season. For adults and children ages ten and older only.
Getting Ready for Winter
Saturday, November 29 at 10:30 AM
Mammals have three strategies for surviving winter: migrate, hibernate, or stay active. Learn how our local mammals cope with the cold.
Subscribe to the Conservationist magazine- New York's award-winning publication with astonishingly beautiful photography and captivating articles.