Exposed – the Secret Life of Turkeys

Turkeys are shy and elusive birds. If you want to get a close-up look, you need to be in the right spot before sunup, dressed in camouflage and with hands and face covered. By all means, bring a turkey call and a couple of decoys. At least, that’s how the saying goes…

Turkeys at Six Sigma Ranch

As residents of Six Sigma Ranch we have a different look at the “secretive” birds. At the crack of dawn, they emerge from their secret (more about that later) sleeping quarters, and groups of 20-50 birds start to invade our yard. Look out the bedroom window, and a gobbler stares right back at you. Open the door to fetch firewood, and you find them nibbling at the Holly Berries or having a noisy meeting in the asparagus patch.

Turkey photo shoot at Six Sigma Ranch

Look out the kitchen window and there they are, lined up for a photoshoot. Then it’s time to work on the pecking order. During the mating season, in particular, the guys perform their elaborate dances to impress the ladies. As they fan their tails and run back and forth with both wings sweeping the ground, they stir up the mysterious patterns you often see in the dust.

Male turkeys at Six Sigma Ranch

It’s hard not to sneak out with a camera to document the show. Occasionally, dogs, cats or rabbits will “photo bomb” the scene. (Shy birds, huh?)

Dog, cat, rabbit, turkeys at Six Sigma Ranch

After a while, the flock gets organized and starts trekking down the hill in a slightly deranged single file. As they move through the Ranch during the day, we see them pick up a balanced diet of bugs and plant material.

Single file of turkeys Six Sigma Ranch

Turkeys are not excellent flyers, but if they are motivated to cross a roadblock, they’ll call a meeting and talk about it, deciding who takes off first, second etc.

Turkeys on a bridge at Six Sigma Ranch

The ability to fly also gives the giant birds access to our vineyards even if we constructed them with a 7-foot fence. We are happy for their help with bug control in the winter, but less happy with their tireless assistance at harvest time. Now you know who gobbled down the grapes (no pun intended) if you spot a couple of turkey feathers close-by when you come across grape vines that have nothing but ribbed-off clusters.

Turkeys in the vineyard at Six Sigma Ranch

As we’ve followed the turkeys throughout the day, they have revealed a lot about their “secret” lifestyle – their diet, their social order, even their mating rituals. But, again, where are their sleeping accommodations?

During the day, the flocks all move in different directions but at dusk, you’ll see several flocks heading towards the same area. That’s your clue – they are headed for bed. Now comes the most surprising part of the day. Ready?

One or two at a time, the big birds make a running start and take off flying, heading for a near-by oak or pine tree. Once up there, they shuffle around, negotiating for the most comfortable spots on the branches. Maybe they reach out for just another crunchy acorn or tasty bug before they go to sleep.

Turkeys roosting in trees at Six Sigma Ranch

We feel blessed that we live in this marvelous place and get a close-up look at God’s creation.

Thank you for following my ramblings about it!

Now the secret life of turkeys is revealed – feel free to pass it on to your friends.

Else Ahlmann

5 thoughts on “Exposed – the Secret Life of Turkeys

Karen Winkeller November 19, 2016 at 11:12 pm

Thanks for sharing this. I had a good laugh one time driving by your vineyard. One turkey on one side of the fence, and one on the other. They were both males trying to start a scuffle. As one bird flew up and down, the other one would do the same. They never flew over the fence but looked as though they were dancing to a rhythm. It was so funny to watch I had to pull over at the gate and watch them.


    Else Ahlmann November 20, 2016 at 3:14 am

    Fascinating story!


Joann Maxwell November 11, 2023 at 1:30 pm

I love your turkey tale..we have a couple flocks at our house in Nice & have watched them do the same stuff. It’s pretty amazing to see 10 – 20 turkeys up in one big pine tree. At night when a fox or coyote disturbs them they really raise a ruckus.


Candy Pined November 19, 2023 at 6:16 am

A fun story about these odd birds. I had no idea where they sleep , but thanks to your descriptive words I now know.. Appreciate your share😊


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