Turkeys at Blendon Woods now common, but it wasn’t always this way

BRUCE SIMPSON, Blendon Woods Naturalist

Turkeys at Blendon Woods and other parks are now common and are a sight to behold, with their brilliant bronze or gold coloring
A turkey at Blendon Woods displays the glorious bronze to gold coloring of its feathers. (Bryan Huber)

Turkeys are now common at Blendon Woods, but it wasn’t always that way. One morning around 15 years ago, as I walked along the Brookside Trail at Blendon Woods listening to songbirds, I heard a surprising sound—the call of the wild turkey, “Gobble gobble gobble.”

In all my years of bird watching at Blendon Woods, this was the first time I had ever heard a turkey here. Soon after I found tracks of the birds, then the park manager saw a turkey.

Turkeys were here to stay. A few years later we had the 17-year cicadas emerge from the ground in vast numbers. They became turkey food and gave the birds additional protein. The population seemed to explode and is still rising. It is common to see flocks of around 30 at Blendon Woods in winter. I estimate at least 125 turkeys inhabit the park.

The overall color of the turkey is bronze and they are brilliant when seen in sunlight. The coloring of one of the female turkeys at Blendon Woods is much more gold than bronze, and some of her young have the gold color too.

FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT TURKEYS

• They spend their nights in the tops of trees
• They can fly at up to 50 miles per hour and run at up to 18 miles per hour
• Benjamin Franklin wanted the wild turkey to be our national bird

TOP PLACES TO SEE WILD TURKEYS IN THE PARKS

• Feeders at Blendon Woods nature center
• Viewing blinds at Blendon Woods’ Thoreau Lake
• Wooded trails at Blendon Woods
• Multiuse Trail at Sharon Woods
• Wetlands at Slate Run

Make a visit to Blendon Woods to see the turkeys here. Sometimes they will walk right beside you as you hike the trails. They are a sight to behold.

Tell us about your crazy encounters with turkeys in our parks

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