Photos of the day - 21 Apr 2016

Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo

The turkey is native to the Americas, and is one of the largest birds in its range, including here in Colorado, where its size is only exceeded by a few of the largest raptors like vultures and eagles.  They can run at 20 mph and fly at 55 mph.  And they can swim!  They have a varied diet that includes insects as well as plant materials like nuts, berries, and tender shoots.

In early Spring, male turkeys begin seeking out females.  Once their audience is assembled, they gobble, strut, and drum to induce females to mate.  Strutting involves pacing back and forth with their body feathers puffed out, tail feathers spread, and their wings spread towards the ground.

Females often indicate their readiness to mate by sitting on the ground.

Eggs are laid in clutches of six to fifteen, and incubated on nests on the ground for around four weeks.  Turkeys lay their eggs one a day, with the females staying away from the nest in between depositing the eggs until they are all laid, after which they stay on the nest almost continuously until hatching.

Young turkeys, called "poults", can fly short distances within seven to ten days of hatching, and once they are strong enough flyers they roost in trees with the adults.  If you have the chance to observe turkeys getting into their roosting locations, enjoy the pure comedy, as they are agile on the ground, but clumsy when maneuvering in flight.

It's common to see turkeys foraging in mixed groups of adults and younger birds.  Young male turkeys stay with their mothers until the Fall, and young females stay until the following Spring.

Turkey trivia: Turkeys were introduced to New Zealand around the 1890s. The turkeys were half domesticated and half wild - they were allowed to roam free but were occasionally fed maize which kept them from wandering too far and avoided conflicts with neighbors who could not resist shooting the turkeys that strayed onto their property. “Shooting each others turkeys” is now part of New Zealand vernacular and now means simply "fighting with one’s neighbors."

High country summer - Part I

Some of my favorite photos from the first few weeks of summer in the Rocky Mountains. 

Mammals

The fox family [Red Fox,  Vulpes vulpes ] was back, with five kits.

The fox family [Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes] was back, with five kits.

"Silver fox" - an uncommon color variation of the Red Fox.

"Silver fox" - an uncommon color variation of the Red Fox.

Young deer on the Black Canyon Trail. 

Young deer on the Black Canyon Trail. 

Tassel-Eared Squirrel  [ Abert's Squirrel , C iurus aberti ].  The  C. aberti ferreus  subspecies that lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is all black - all of the other subspecies have a white belly.

Tassel-Eared Squirrel [Abert's Squirrel, Ciurus aberti].  The C. aberti ferreus subspecies that lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is all black - all of the other subspecies have a white belly.

American red squirrel  [ Tamiasciurus hudsonicus] .

American red squirrel [Tamiasciurus hudsonicus].

Chipmunk. 

Chipmunk. 

Elk  [ Cervus canadensis ] move through the neighborhood early in the summer before they head up to the higher elevations.

Elk [Cervus canadensis] move through the neighborhood early in the summer before they head up to the higher elevations.

Birds

  Pygmy Nuthatch

 Pygmy Nuthatch

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Wild Turkey  [ Meleagris gallopavo ].  This image was shot before dawn, and therefore the colors are very muted.

Wild Turkey [Meleagris gallopavo].  This image was shot before dawn, and therefore the colors are very muted.

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Plants and Flowers

Pasque flowers kicked it off as early Spring bloomers. 

Pasque flowers kicked it off as early Spring bloomers. 

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Sticky cinquefoil,  Potentilla glandulosa .

Sticky cinquefoil, Potentilla glandulosa.

Sticky cinquefoil,  Potentilla glandulosa .

Sticky cinquefoil, Potentilla glandulosa.

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Landscapes

Sticky Geranium,  Geranium viscosissimum

Sticky Geranium, Geranium viscosissimum

Trees grow in a crack in Button Rock.

Trees grow in a crack in Button Rock.

Looking west towards Mt. Meeker and Long's Peak from Button Rock.

Looking west towards Mt. Meeker and Long's Peak from Button Rock.

Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Fern Lake.

Fern Lake.

Aspens at sunrise.

Aspens at sunrise.

The Loch, Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Loch, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Loch Vale, with Timberline Falls in the distance, right of center.

Loch Vale, with Timberline Falls in the distance, right of center.

Panorama with Lake of Glass at left, and The Loch down below at right.

Panorama with Lake of Glass at left, and The Loch down below at right.

Clouds over the Continental Divide from near the top of Twin Sisters.

Clouds over the Continental Divide from near the top of Twin Sisters.

A view of "The Keyhole" - on the route to the summit of Long's Peak -  from Estes Cone.

A view of "The Keyhole" - on the route to the summit of Long's Peak -  from Estes Cone.