Turkey Trot


There are some memories that never fade from one’s mind. As we get older, we tend to hold on to the special occasions that define a moment in time. Each season of change opens the gates to the reflections of the mind’s eye. Each year the flashbacks grow stronger until you wonder if the moment is a memory or occurring for the very first time.

One cold fall morning many years ago, as my son Nicholas and I looked out the living room window at the bird feeders, oblong shapes appeared up on the hill on the other side of our ancient rock wall. Our property is fortunate to have boundaries marked by previous generations of pioneers who laid out the land in this wondrous fashion.

We pressed our faces against the cold window glass as five, ten, fifteen and more wild turkeys slowly did their recognizable trot across the woodland floor, scratching at the layer of leaves as they fed on the abundance of natural food. They were unruffled by the morning sounds of automobiles, dogs barking in the distance and the usual scurrying of ground critters.turkey trot

We were fascinated at the obvious hierarchy, the constant line of birds, continuing towards the street. As they cautiously approached the road, they maintained their single file and headed towards the driveway. Just beyond, leaning against a huge boulder, was our Halloween scarecrow. We used an old pair of trousers and a flannel shirt, stuffed with leaves to create the illusion of a resting human.

When the lead turkey caught sight of this, it stopped abruptly. In rapid succession, each wild bird in the chorus line followed suit, creating a traffic jam. The turkeys displayed their own distress signs; wing flapping, short take-offs, and quick step trotting. Then every bird froze. All necks stretched high. Time had stopped without a whisper of sound to be heard anywhere.

Not one bird would cross the imaginary line of safety. Then, without warning, the lead bird turned tail and headed across the street into our neighbor’s yard. Each turkey followed this male tom, never wavering from the abstract demarcation that was left by the leader. My son and I remained at our post, relishing the moment as nature continued on its way.

Each time I witness the flocking of wild turkeys on our street, I remember this special moment with my son. It’s just another sign of age and experience that is part of the plan.

It’s mine and mine alone to keep with me forever. When my son becomes a man and leaves the nest, I know he will create his own reflections of time with his children. I hope I am there to be a part of it. Enjoy your birds.

Wild Bird Depot is located on Rt 11 in Gilford, NH. Steve White is a contributing author in major publications, a guest lecturer at major conventions in Atlanta and St. Louis as well as the host of WEZS 1350AM radio show “Bird Calls” with Lakes Region Newsday @ 8:30AM. Wild Bird Depot has donated over $5,000 to local rehabilitators and local nature centers since 1996. Be sure to check out our blog “Bird Droppings” via our website www.wildbirddepot.com. Like us on Facebook for great contests and prizes.