Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Turkey Vultures, Wild Turkeys Seen in Waldo

Just over the treetops, a huge bird soared, wings held up slightly, at a dihedral, the edges of the primaries fluttering in the breeze. Turkey vulture. The turkey vultures have arrived in Mid-Coast Maine.

In my youth, these birds were unheard of. But now, turkey vultures are regular fixtures of the Maine skies beginning in early spring and continuing until early fall.

While some may be tempted to suggest that global warming has drawn these huge scavengers north, the truth is far more prosaic. The Interstate Highway System, coupled with increased traffic on other primary and secondary highways is the real reason for the turkey vulture invasion.

Turkey vultures follow the retreating snowpack north each spring, seeking road-kill carrion or, as some bird-watchers like to say, “TV dinners.”

Anyway, I watched the vulture for a while and then continued on my way. Later, upon returning home, I heard a familiar sound coming from back on my woodlot. Wild turkeys. The gobbling told me that were I a turkey hunter, it would be easy pickings. But since turkey season falls smack dab in the middle of the year’s best trout and salmon fishing, I don’t bother going out.

But the presence of turkeys also alerts me to expect trouble with my garden. Groups of turkeys often invade my garden beds, scratching and uprooting vegetable seedlings. It’s a full-time job to keep them at bay with lots of hand waving, yelling and sometimes a little cussing.

But that’s the price we pay for living in the woods and going hand-in-hand with nature. It’s worth it, too.

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