0

Where my wild things are - Denese Rodgers

Last month, we had a wild turkey to wander up to the house.

Now, I admit that we live out in the woods, and I'm not normally surprised by the occasional visitor. We regularly see deer, and an assortment of ground critters, such as chipmonks and moles, but not turkeys.

I don't think I really thought they were native to Georgia until my father-in-law showed me the doohickey that he uses to "call" turkeys. Even then, I wondered if he was pulling my leg.

We were riding through North Georgia one afternoon a few years ago and I saw a whole flock of them. Side note: They are not actually called a flock. They are called a "rafter of turkeys," but I knew most of you wouldn't have any idea what a rafter of turkeys might be.

And it was my first sighting of wild turkeys as a city-fried adult.

The first day I saw my bird in the yard, we scared the snot out of each other, because I came barreling out of the house on my way to work and almost mowed her down. She squawked, I squealed and we went our separate ways. I didn't say anything about her, because I was sure my friends would think I had been drinking Wild Turkey in order to see one in my yard.

That afternoon, my husband asked me if I had seen the turkey hen in the front yard and I breathed a sigh of relief. If I was hallucinating, at least I had company. I was so proud of her that I took a picture of her and put it on Facebook (no, she doesn't have her own group yet).

It has been kind of interesting to have her around. She is the most skittish thing you have ever seen. When she is in the yard, it is like she has given all the other woodland creatures the green light to come out and play.

They see her and seem to feel safe. But whoo-boy, when she gets spooked, she arches her neck, raises up her wings and most of her feathers -- and moves like greased lightning into the closest stand of trees, where she gets very, very quiet.

Now, something I should've known from having had chickens in the past: Birds are messy. My turkey leaves her nice, decorative feathers, and what has to be her "underwear feathers" all over the yard. And she can put out more fertilizer than a moose.

If she sticks around, we are going to have to establish some bathroom boundaries, so that I don't have a sudden urge for a really, really, fresh Thanksgiving dinner.

She likes music, she will twirl and preen to heavy metal, instrumental music. Last Saturday, we could have sworn she was keeping the beat to the music in how she bobbed her head back and forth.

And one more thing we've discovered: Turkeys are either really social or really vain. She will stand on my front stoop and talk to her reflection in the storm door all afternoon.

It is a little unnerving, if you are standing in the kitchen and you see a 10-pound turkey hen that looks like she wants to come in ... for dinner.

Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-services, networking, community organization in Henry County.