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Is That A Gobble On The Wind?

March 3, 2014

It was the perfect kind of early spring morning.  A drizzling rain had been falling since well before sunrise, and the air was still and wet and cool.  It was the kind of Sunday morning where you just want to sit out on the porch with a hot cup of coffee and let the day begin.

And that’s what I did.

The rain from the gutters trickled musically down the rain chains, and then pattered with a percussive “thunk” on the lids of the over-full barrels.  A pair of woodpeckers chattered and fluttered around the dying branch of one of my red oaks.  White wing and Eurasian collared doves were cooing and hooting from their roosts in the cedars, loathe to come out in the rain.  Blue-grey nuthatches, red-faced English house sparrows, tiny Inca doves, and any number of ordinary LBBs (Little Brown Birds) covered the yard and barn pasture.  They were far less concerned about the misty drops of rain than with the last of the millet and cracked corn from the bird feeders, and the grass seed I’d just broadcast over the acre of rocky ground by the barn.  Their spirited chirps and songs provided a happy sort of background music to the rainy morning.

Some people talk about how quiet the country life is, but it’s pretty clear that “quiet” really isn’t the right word.  Peaceful, yes… but not quiet.  It’s downright cacophonous at times like this.

Down the canyon from me, about a quarter mile or so, my neighbor has collected something of a menagerie.  His herd includes goats, donkeys, geese, ducks, dogs, and a roving band of peacocks.  These beasts make up the farm animal section of the canyon orchestra, and theirs is not exactly a mellifluous contribution to the overall concerto.  Fortunately, they were resting their instruments as I tipped back the last drops of coffee.

But then, as I stepped to the porch rail to gaze out across the pastures for wildlife, I heard the first bleats and ba-ahs, and I recognized the signal that feeding time was near.  When the wind is right in the canyon, some small sounds carry right to me, and sure enough, I heard the creak of a screen door opening and a barely discernible voice.  The door creaked louder, and then slammed with a bang.

And on the damp breeze I caught it… for the first time all year… the distant shock-gobble of a tom turkey!

Feeding progressed, and occasionally over the braying of the jackass and the honking of geese, I heard again and again that wonderful sound.  Then the peacocks joined in, and soon there was a sort of call-and-response chorus of the peacock’s mewling screech, followed by the rattling gobbles that indicated not one, but a whole group of toms in the near distance.

I’ve been wondering all winter where those birds had gone, and now look forward to their steady migration back up the canyon.  The season here in Edwards County opens in less than two weeks, and I look forward to breaking out the slate and decoys and getting after the “feathered elk” again this year!

 

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