Umpqua National Forest, Oregon, USA
Western Oregon is a mix of fairly open valleys and deep forest at higher elevations. When we first moved here a wild turkey was a rare sight … and a little suspect as to whether it really qualified as a wild one or a domestic that had gone wandering. There were meager results from early attempts to introduce birds. But then the Fish and Wildlife Department learned how to successfully transport wild turkeys for a successful introduction. Earlier attempts had penned the birds for awhile. Biologists found that the birds needed to be caught quickly, immediately flown to the new location, and released. Now the lower elevations have plenty of turkeys, perhaps too many. Often a flock becomes quite tame and becomes a yard nuisance. A strutting tom is a formidable force if he thinks your front porch is his territory.
The turkeys that have established themselves on National Forest land are much wilder. Food is scarcer and their numbers are much lower. Their wariness is reinforced by a hunting season. Once in awhile we see one quickly slipping into the undergrowth. Just finding a feather of one of these wilder ones is a treat. This feather is about five inches long and comes from underneath its beautiful tail feathers. I found it a few feet from a water source at about 3200 feet in elevation – a little higher than I expect to find them. I brought the feather back to the car and painted it quickly.