Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dominant Male

One of my goals over the past few years has been to get a close up shot of a male turkey doing his mating dance. This has proven to be quite a challenge. Contrary to popular belief, turkeys are very intelligent birds and are usually quite wary and elusive. The moment they sense that they are not alone, they disappear in a hurry.
I have made some nice images in the past, but always from a distance.

On Sunday, I went to one of my favorite local birding spots. As I was approaching this neighborhood, I was running through a mental list of the birds that I might see and how I might like to photograph them if the opportunity arose. As I thought about turkeys, I spotted some males dancing on a hill behind a house. They were very far away without a clear view. I parked my car and tried to sneak into position to make a shot through some trees. Before I set one foot on the ground, the turkeys which were more than 100 yards away decided to leave.

Fortunately for me, they moved to the other side of the house and I could park by the side of the road and use my car as a blind. For some strange reason, most birds don't associate cars with humans. They will often tolerate the presence of a car even though they would not tolerate the presence of a human.

From my car, I was able to make some decent medium distance shots. The turkeys were approximately 35 yards away and doing their dance. There were four males, but no females. As I was wondering where the females were, I heard them calling from down the road. They were calling from the yard of another house where I frequently see them. When the four males that I was watching moved further away, I decided to see what the females were doing. Much to my surprise and delight, they were being entertained by a large male that was only twenty feet from the road!

I slowly coasted my car into position and made some quick images. The turkeys were not bothered by my presence at all. They continued on with there courtship for at least another five minutes, before they moved across the street to a large conservation field. I was thrilled to be so close to these turkeys. After many unsuccessful attempts to get close to these birds, I was finally able to get close and make some frame filling images!

To me, turkeys are an amazingly interesting bird. They are at the same time incredibly beautiful and ugly. They are vibrantly colorful, particularly in the spring during mating season.

As the morning went on, I spotted seven male turkeys and nearly thirty females, all in the same neighborhood. I was stunned at how many males were about. I hope to return to visit these turkeys over the next few weeks to try to improve on my images. I will be incredibly lucky to have another morning like this one!

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