Daily Archives: November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

While teaching a Point and Shoot field workshop at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, we came across an amazing sight: at least 50 hen turkeys walking mostly two by two, in a straight line along a berm…like the graduating class at Turkey High. The line stretched out over 100 yards at least, moving sedately, but steadily, past a gap in the foreground brush, going somewhere with great purpose. It was a behavior I had never seen…but then I am accustomed to Eastern Wild Turkeys, a very different subspecies from the Rio Grande subspecies common at Bosque del Apache. (There are 5 distinct subspecies of Wild Turkey in the US.) The Rio Grande differ in appearance, size, and, apparently, behavior. No self-respecting Eastern Wild Turkey, past the pult stage, would ever be part of such a procession, especially with a group of humans standing 50 feet away watching. They are not emotionally equipped for lines, and in the presence of humans tend to fly off in all directions. The Rio Grande variety is apparently better socialized and somewhat tamer. Watching the procession, I was, of course, reminded of Thanksgiving. I had to wonder if the hen at the head of the procession had promised her followers a safe haven somewhere up the berm. (Hunting is tightly regulated on the refuge, and the turkey population has a right to feel safe there.) And looking at the image this Thanksgiving morning, I can not help but think of the whole tradition of Thanksgiving. Later today I will sit down with extended family to do justice (if not homage) to a relative of these birds (though descended from the Southern Mexican subspecies). And I will do it with a thankful heart. Thankful, among many other things, that Wild Turkeys still roam our fields and refuges where we can appreciate their beauty. Happy that I get to be there to appreciate them. Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and to all of yours.