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!



7 Responses to “Is That A Gobble On The Wind?”

  1. Is That A Gobble On The Wind? | on March 3rd, 2014 18:42

    […] Is That A Gobble On The Wind? […]

  2. ian on March 4th, 2014 09:01

    Love this! Right now in Panama we’re living out at the end of town. The ‘quiet’ part. True, there’s less rooster racket, but I can’t sleep past first light because the birds are outrageously loud. Especially loud are the resident Kiskadees. As in: you can kiss your sleep goodbye. Last night (4AM) some group of birds went bananas for about 20 minutes. They sounded like flustered chickens on LSD. Can’t seem to find any bird call descriptions that match this however…

    Good luck w the turkeys…

  3. Phillip on March 4th, 2014 14:19

    Ahh… the peace and quiet of the bucolic life, huh? Chickens on acid. Almost (but not quite) sounds like a good name for a band.

  4. Alex Hoover on March 4th, 2014 14:12

    The merriams were showing off their fans this morning in my neighborhood in the Denver foothills.

  5. Phillip on March 4th, 2014 14:18

    There’s been a good bit of pre-strut here too. The toms are still in groups, and this cold snap probably will hold off the mating activity for another week or so, but I look forward to seeing the groups bust up. That’s generally when they’ll start showing up around my place.

  6. ian on March 9th, 2014 20:04

    finally got out of bed last night and tromped through the forest with my flashlight, determined to find the source of that cacophony. Here are your trippin’ chickens…

  7. Phillip on March 10th, 2014 11:56

    Ahh… nothing like solving a mystery! Kind of a cool looking bird. Always wondered what acid-head chickens would look like. Not at all what I anticipated, though.