Wild Turkeys

Dancing in the Yard

Story and Photos by Joseph Zahnle

When my wife Barbara and I lived in Orofino from 2010 to 2015, our house on a hill in the woods about a mile from town was a perfect spot to observe the behaviors of many wild animal species. A pond on the property regularly drew animals for a drink. We saw coyotes, whitetail deer, turkeys, squirrels, raccoons, and an occasional bear.

But let’s talk turkey—wild turkey, which are are more interesting to watch than you might think, especially if you haven’t seen the mating dance a male turkey or tom does to gather his hens. He fans his tail, makes a fluttering sound with his wings, and gobbles as he gets the hens to go in the direction he wants. If a couple of hens don’t respond, the tom drops back and gets them moving.

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