Wild turkey update...

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by thecityman, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. thecityman

    thecityman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Because I have received countless PM's requesting an update on my wild turkeys, I decided to just post an update here. I sincerely hope this thread doesn't turn into a big debate over wheather I should have saved these turkeys or not, or another opportunity for a few of you to once again condemn me...not because I'm saying I'm right and you are wrong, but because its just not the purpose of this post. This post is to say thanks to the vast majority of you who have been supportive, and to provide an update (and photos) of how things are going. My decision to rescue the eggs has already been made, and I'm not going to abandon the baby turkeys now, so telling me how awful it was for me to take them in won't serve much purpose. If you want to PM me those opinions I'll certainly listen and respond politely.

    FOr those who don't know what I'm talking about, a friend of mine accidently ran over a wild turkey nest and destroyed several eggs and (tragically) killed the hen. Though I had very limited experience with hatching or raising fowl (though I'd done it a few times years ago), I decided to go buy an incubator and try to hatch the eggs since they were clearly doomed without intervention. THere were 6 uncracked eggs. Apparently the hen was in the process of laying more and hadn't sat on the nest much at all because it took 27 days before the hatched. All 6 eggs hatched (amazingly). Sadly, one of them was born with a badly deformed legg that was turned outward, and was never able to stand on the one leg so was never able to stand or walk. I gave it 3 days and sought the advice of the experts here but in the end, it was clear that the chick would never be able to have any quality of life at all and -again with advice and info of the wonderful people here- I had to euthanize it. The other 5 chicks have done magnificent. With the help of people here and a LOT of other resources, I've done my very best to raise these in a way that might allow them to be released one day. I know some believe its impossible (they will imprint on humans, not fear predators, etc) but there is a lot of cases out there where it seems to have been done successfully, and a lot of you here also feel a first generation wild turkey will have enough instincts to make it. I'm not here to debate that either....and the decision to release or not release will be made later based on situations at that time. Some of the steps I'm taking are quite funny....I actually use a wild turkey decoy around them a LOT, especially when they were born but even today when I put food and water in for them, or clean, etc. (yes, some of you have had good laughs at the image of me hiding behind a decoy when i have to interact with them! haha. I've also just tried to minimize all human interaction with them a LOT. I also use a turkey call around them a lot to try and help them recognize adult sounds. I also suppliment their high protein scratch food with a lot of live bugs, which is really fun because they go crazy chasing the bugs (I use japanese beetles now because their easy to catch with a trap (an idea proposed by a BYC member))

    They are now 3 weeks and 3 days old. They seem happy and healthy. They look identicle (in fact, I've had to put little colored identifiers on their ankle to tell them apart!) Their colors are beautiful to me and I can only imagine how camoflodged they would be if in the wild! Surprisingly, they were actually born not only with down, but with some real feathers (in early stages) and now at 3 weeks their wings arefully feathered and they are able to fly short distances now. Also, just within the last few days, some of them have started to puff up and strut (I'm not suggesting they are gobblers or even that they are doing it as a breeding effort or anything...not at 3 weeks....I guess they are just practicing? Also, some of them HISS like snakes and peck and go nuts if I put my hand in their cage. I guess thats a good sign of wildness. Strangely, 3 seem really wild and 2 faily tame. Also, 2 of the wilder ones are bigger than the others. Obviously I wonder if this means TOMs, but I have no idea at this age and from what I've heard on here, there is just no reliable way to tell for several weeks.

    I hope this answers a lot of your questions and updates those of you who have been wondering about them. By the way, in one of the photos you'll see a really small guy...its actually a bobwhite quail that I hatched at the same time. I got some eggs from someone who raises them....it was not a wild find or anything. I just set some quail eggs at the same time because I honestly doubted the turkeys would hatch and didn't want to have wasted my time and moneyon incubating! If any of you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them.
    Kevin

     
  2. thecityman

    thecityman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    oops...lets try again on the photos....

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  3. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

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    Cool.
     
  4. fire1ok

    fire1ok Out Of The Brooder

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    I commend you for the effort you have put forth to save these wonderful birds.
     
  5. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Neat, and you definitely did the right thing IMO.
     
  6. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

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    I really like their coloring. Much different from the BBB's I have.
     
  7. thecityman

    thecityman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 14, 2010
    Thanks for the votes of support (both here and via PM), and I'm glad so many of you are in my corner. Also glad everyone is enjoying the birth and development of these guys. I'll undoubtedly be needing more assistance from you all as things progress, so I'm glad I've got your interest. BTW....if anyone has any clue by looking at these guys I'd sure like to hear any guesses on sex! Not that it really matters at all...just curious. ITs also been interesting to me that wild turkey babies and bobwhite quail babies are absolutely INDENTICAL in color as babies (in terms of color I mean). I guess nature has a way of determining the ultimate camoflodge and applying it to all ground-based birds in the same geographical area.
     
  8. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Be careful with the ones hissing and pecking at you, you don't want them to get aggressive. There was a case locally here where a tom turkey wouldn't let people out of their houses. I wasn't there so I don't know the true story, but they claimed that he attacked when they tried to go out. For all I know, he could have been running up to see if they had food.

    Chances are if there are wild turkeys in your area, these guys may join up with a local flock in the fall if you decide to release them. If you do decide to release and live in an area with a lot of snow cover in the winter, you might want to consider putting a feeding station out for them. If we get a lot of snow (varies year to year) and food sources are at risk of getting covered, I put out feed for pheasants and/or wild turkeys anyhow because a lot of them do starve if their food is covered.

    Cute babies! About the size that I have seen flying up to low branches in the trees. They roost for the night cuddled under mom's wings in the trees. Always amazes me that they can fly at all. And for the record, I would have probably done the same thing that you did.
     
  9. oldchickenlady

    oldchickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2010
    Cabot, AR
    I think you did great! Keep up the good work. We have MANY wild turkeys here in TN. I live in the woods and very often see groups of hens together with all their babies (safety in numbers, I guess) and I mean LOTS of babies. I have seen as many as 4 or 5 hens with 30-40 chicks! Wouldn't it be cool if you could find another hen with chicks and integrate yours with hers? That would be awesome...don't know how you could do it, but it would be neat if you could. Since that probably will never happen, I say just keep on like you're doing. Maybe you could introduce them back to the wild gradually? If you lived in the country this would be fairly easy. If you don't live in the country...well, that complicates things, but I think you could still turn them out in an area where there are turkeys (when they are old enough of course) and they might join a wild flock. I think if you continue to use the decoy, limit human contact, etc. and could get them introduced to an area that has turkeys they would stand a good chance of surviving. Their instincts are pretty strong. Good luck and pay no attention to anyone who wants to bash you for doing this. Who cares what they think anyway?
     

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