Had you been near the west end of Newton’s Broadway Ave. this morning I can assure you those really were wild turkey gobbles you were hearing at about 8:30 a.m.
If you were awakened by the loud owl hoots and honking car horn that preceded every gobble…I know nothing about it.
I was a bit surprised to see three longbeards pecking in yards as I headed for work this morning. I’ve seen sizable flocks on the edge of town several times. That’s about three blocks from where the birds were pecking and scratching this morning. That’s a short walk for wild turkey legs.
Being somewhat of a turkaholic I couldn’t resist the chance to circle the block and give the birds a slower look. When I slowed the toms went into a bit of a panic and two bumped into each other. I whistled the kee-kee call of a lost poult out the window and a tom gobble as he streaked into another yard.
I circled the block again. My loud owl hoots brought a few more gobbles as did quick honks on my car’s horn. One bird, obviously the dominant of the three, snapped into strut.
A few other cars stopped, no doubt wondering why the toms were in Newton and why one was strutting and gobbling like it was April or May.
My guess is that they wandered into town looking for food. That’s a pretty tough commodity to find in a lot of places these days if you’re most kinds of wildlife. Crops failed and native plants barely grew before they shriveled under the on-going drought.
But the strutting and gobbling are perfectly normal. I’ve seen and heard it all 12 months of year. One January I listened to more than two hours of nearly non-stop gobbling in the Flint Hills as a gobbler flock of about 35 birds fought and chased each other around as they determined pecking order.
Strutting and gobbling are signs of excitement…it just so happens the spring breeding season is when toms enjoy the most excitement.