Earlier this year, I wrote about the problem of our wandering turkeys. They were attracted across the street to scavenge from our neighbor’s bird feeder. Part of it was our fault: we had stopped regular feedings as they seemed to find enough in their wandering so their explorations got farther and farther afield. They found leftover greens in the overgrown vegetable garden and then discovered the feeder.
I am happy to say that the turkeys have been successfully “trained” to stay near the house and the barn yard rather than wandering down front. They get fed twice a day, once in a penned area and once at their very own turkey-level bird feeder and sometimes a third time just to make sure they are close by and come when they are called. They are, by no means, pets, and one of them, in particular, is aggressive so I carry a big stick as we walk along to wherever I am going to spread the food.
For those of you who are having trouble imagining these birds, here they are at their sunflower seed feeder. The tapping is loud so it is hard to hear the happy sort of chirp they make.
The last two farm animals left after having both pigs and chickens on the farm are two Royal Palm turkeys. Both males, they are at least five years old, surviving several hens and a couple of their hatch mates. I don’t think much would mess with them at this point. We allow them to roam and had mostly stopped feeding them every day, just kitchen compost and scraps. But, we discovered they have been heading down to the front of the property and across the street where our neighbors put up a bird feeder on a low hanger, turkey level. They have managed to avoid being hit by a car on the road and always seem to come home to roost.
They are, however, a nuisance to our neighbor, eating all the food and just generally making a mess. So, we have spent the last week or so trying to keep them away from the road by encouraging them to stay in the house and barnyard. It mostly means feeding them pretty regularly so they stick close by.
I thought we were doing pretty well until we walked down the driveway yesterday and found them busy cleaning out the feeder across the street. We called to them but they pretty much ignored us. Our neighbor helped by appearing with a broom, and they followed us home.
We could pen them up but it is a challenge since they can fly enough to get over a high fence so we need a canopy. And, it seems mean as they do like to wander. That is our last resort although we may work on a pen to use when we are going to be away.
Today’s new strategy: fight feeder with feeder. We’re going to fill a feeder and put it close to the ground the way our neighbor does. That way, they can eat right out of it. And, we are going to loan our neighbor a higher crook for their feeder so it becomes less attractive.
This is real-world problem solving with trial and error. And, of course, trying to think like a turkey helps as well.