Hen trilling

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by PatS, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. PatS

    PatS Songster

    Mar 28, 2009
    Northern Califonia
    I have a turkey hen who makes a trilling noise (think of the "Trouble with Tribbles" Star Trek episode). It is such a pretty sound, but she makes it just before she bites. It happened a couple of times when she was a baby, but it started up again recently. I broke my foot and with the terribly wet weather we've had, I haven't been out to do my bird chores for several weeks. (My DH took over.) She still saw me, but not as often, and I was wearing a big Frankenstein boot. Now that the boot is off, she seems very upset by my shoes and she pulls back her head like a snake ready to strike, makes the trilling noise, and acts like she is going to attack my foot. The funny thing is, one of the other hens seems to "stick up for me" by getting between the naughty hen and me, and starts biting the naughty hen, forcing her back and away from me. This has happened several times. Can anyone who understands turkey psychology explain this strange behavior?

    Background, three BR hens, 8 mos. old, 1 MW male, 9 mos. old. No squatting yet on the part of the girls, and the male seems very sad about that. He'll display for anyone or anything, any time, and follows the girls around, wistfully.
  2. True Grit

    True Grit Songster

  3. pdpatch

    pdpatch Songster

    Apr 5, 2008
    Hastings, Nebraska
    The sound and behavior is that she is challenging you because something is upsetting her.

    She got use to the the way you looked and can't deal with the change. She just doesn't like the color of your shoes. This is most likely why she is upset, turkey can key off of certain colors or combination of colors. when you have just a few it's much more obvious then it is in larger flocks. Try wearing a different color of shoes.

  4. farmerlor

    farmerlor Songster

    LOL! I'm sorry, not laughing at you but that's the way I've described the noise my girls make. People look at me when I say "trouble with tribbles" like "Okaaaaaayyyyyy...." Anyway, that's the sound the girls make to each other to say they see something that concerns them or is interesting or is worth looking at. Sort of like Steve says "that looks dangerous, let's check it out!" She may not actually be attacking you so much as just checking it out, the only way turkeys have to explore something is to bite it, think the oral exploring that babies do. I'm sure as you get better and get up and about more she'll calm down again.
  5. PatS

    PatS Songster

    Mar 28, 2009
    Northern Califonia
    Thanks for the insights!

    I have noticed that there are certain articles of clothing that set them off. Our black gardening gloves, for example. They peck at those like crazy, and if they are left laying out, one of the birds will snatch one up and play keep away.

    I figured "naughty girl" (a very polite version of what her name has become) was upset with the change. When I get big and "spread my wings," she backs off. What I find especially curious is the behavior of "my protector." I understand intellectually she's not protecting me, but we humans look for patterns and explanations about why things happen and project human behaviors on to what we see. But still, it is amusing to see one bird challenge my foot and another one (always the same bird) get between us and start to open a can of woop-ass on the one who is acting aggressive towards me.

    Turkeys make the most interesting vocalizations. When they were young there was one that specifically meant, "Look there's a new animal we have never seen before." When I heard it I would run outside and sure enough, they were having their first encounter with a dog through the fence, a neighbor's cat, or a possum walking through the yard (which got chased off!). Now that they are almost adults, I never hear that one anymore.

    I do love turkeys! They are so amusing.
  6. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Crowing

    Apr 19, 2009
    This is a simple one, actually. Entered into the turkey translator naughty girl's behavior translates directly to english in very simple terms. She is saying: "I WANT TO LIVE IN THE FREEZER!" Likewise, the protector's behavior also translates directly to common english. She is saying "I DO NOT WANT TO LIVE IN THE FREEZER!"

    As a responsible turkey owner I would suggest you promptly grant their wishes. [​IMG]
  7. jasonm11

    jasonm11 Songster

    Nov 18, 2010
    tioga tx
    Quote:[​IMG] Brilliant! absolutely brilliant, and funny too.
  8. biddyboo

    biddyboo Songster

    Apr 27, 2008
    Ashland, Missouri
    I've heard "trilling" from my silkies when they are settled in snuggy roosting or when they have scratch and BOSS to find in their litter. Trilling is a happy contented sign at our place. ~G
  9. PatS

    PatS Songster

    Mar 28, 2009
    Northern Califonia
    Quote:You're actually very close to the truth. We had planned to process a turkey prior to Christmas but have been too busy. You-know-whose days are numbered. (She has always been a bit of a pain to the other birds and we always knew she was next on the list.) DH suggests that perhaps she has heard me talking about my plans.
  10. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    mine don't like the ball cap I ocasionally wear. and it takes them a few minutes to figure out that I am the same "food lady" as always. Mine "trill" at bed time.

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