Friday, 25 December 2009

The Christmas Turkey


If there is a nuclear apocalypse, the cockroaches might very well inherit the earth. But they won't be on their own. They'll be sharing the cinders with brush turkeys*.

I've come to this conclusion after minutes many months of careful observation from my living room in the rainforest. Turkeys have excellent vision and hearing. Anything that sounds like a packet of biscuits being opened will draw them from miles around. They are inquisitive, treating the unfamiliar as though it were edible, which it often is to a turkey. And they will eat anything, including the cooling corpse of a tooth-billed bowerbird that flew into a window and a live skink that was trying to hide under my car.

They doze on their backs ... (note the feet and the scalloped belly feathers)

... and look embarrassed when you catch them

They are resourceful, mugging pademelons for whatever fruit tidbit they are holding. (Spotted catbirds do the same thing — steal food from a paddie's paws — but they usually fly away immediately with their prize. Turkeys will often give the poor macropods a peck as well.)

They turn up whenever the camera appears ...

... and walk right into shot no matter how tightly you frame the image

And they are persistent. A turkey will knock the lid off a dustbin more times than you can be bothered to put it back on. And as for picnic tables …
Listen and understand. That turkeynator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until everything is eaten.
Well, you know what they say: the beak will inherit the earth.

_____

*I am certain that somewhere there's a draft of Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road' with the words A truly chilling vision of the end of civilization. But. Needs moar turkeys scribbled in the margin.

17 comments:

mick said...

I like it all! The description and the photos!! I've never seen turkeys resting on their backs. You certainly live in an interesting place. I just wonder how you manage to get any "proper" work done with that show going on outside.

NanaJude said...

She doesn't, mick.
;p

Snail said...

NanaJude's right, mick! I don't get anything done. Well, hradly anything.

The turkeys don't lie on their backs very often but it's hilarious when they do. They're extremely watchful, as you can imagine, so when they detect any movement they get up quickly. In that first shot the turkey's already starting to roll over.

Dave Ingram said...

The first photograph is absolutely stunning - a fitting portrait for Christmas day. Who would want to eat something that handsome!

Cheers,

Dave

Denis Wilson said...

A good fun way to start Boxing Day (I was a little slow, to get started, I admit),
Lovely photo-essay.
I was surprised that they devoured the dead Bower bird - but not really surprised, once I thought about survival of the fittest, in the forest.
And out-boxing Pademelons is quite an achievement.
Would the lying down be "anting" perhaps?
.
Cheers
Denis

sarala said...

Your photos are wonderful as always. I'm posting an American wild turkey in tribute! Happy holidays.

Snail said...

Dave, they are splendid birds, even if they do have some dubious habits. I love having them around the place.

Denis, I was a bit surprised by the enthusiasm of the bowerbird-eating turkey. I should have taken some pics. It held down the corpse with one its big feet and just ripped apart the dead bird.

The paddies are generally too slow to work out what's happening with the turkeys, except for one feisty young male that has now got it in for any turkey that comes too close. He wrestles them and has even given one a boot with both hind feet. (To little effect.) Now he goes on the offensive whenever a turkey comes too close.

Sarala, happy holidays to you too!

Tyto Tony said...

And yet I've noticed them having trouble eating mangos, because they don't use a foot to hold the slippery fruit down.

How about Tarmac McCarthy on the bit human highway. No country for men, old or young! But was he pulling our legs (off)?

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

Are they good to eat? In case I survive the apocalypse too...

Sherryl said...

Amazing. Did you knobble one and eat it for Xmas?
Hope you had a great Christmas day and didn't lose your food to the turkeys!

Lulu Stader said...

Much better reading your hilarious story than eating turkey for Xmas!

Snail said...

Sherryl, I haven't eaten one of these turkeys, but I understand (from sources) that they're a bit tough. Don't know about the scrubfowl though. They do look like they might be good tucker. (But are protected, so are quite safe when they run around here.)

Lulu, I'm glad no one around here opted to cook (real) turkey for Xmas lunch. I had a champagne breakfast with neighbours and we had plates of seafood, ham, cheese, tomatoes and bread ... but no fowl of any sort. Not even chicken!

Snail said...

Oops, Aydin, that comment about eating brush turkeys is directed to you too!

Tony, it might just be one smart (and slightly psychotic) bird that knows to use its great big plates. I can't tell them apart, except for the neurotic male bird and a newly fledged youngster. (Although, there may be more than one each of those. In which case, I can't tell them apart either.)

Sebastian said...

I swear, if those bloody brush turkeys were a species on any other continent, they would long be bloody extinct. They are more trusting than House Sparrows.

Perhaps you are right. Perhaps they are actually aware of their protected status and hence care not about us humans...

Snail said...

I have to keep the screen doors closed otherwise the little buggers come into the kitchen. One's already tried to fly in through the living room window.

A neighbour reports returning home to find one sitting on the ceiling fan ...

Susan said...

Wonderful post! Thank you! The wild turkey here in eastern Ontario are not quite as colourful, nor as bold...they are very wiley though.
http://susansgonetothebirds.blogspot.com/2009/10/fowl-weather-friends.html

Snail said...

I think their (allegedly) poor flavour worked well for our turkeys!