It must be said that the mortality rate of domestic turkeys is high. It might be that the same is true for wild turkeys, but this exceeds my limited experience. The mortality rate for domestic turkeys is surprisingly high. I know this.
I knew it when one of the four hatched on our kitchen table mysteriously tipped over (dead) in the pasture pen. I was wary when moving the electric net fences to fresh grass, hoping that the turks would adjust their ranging to the new location of their shelter and maintain the protection offered by the electric fence. And they did, regularly, except for when somehow they didn’t. Only one turkey remains now, in the company of the fancy lavender orpington and arucana chickens also hatched in the spring. One turkey out of three, with no clue to what transpired save for the sagging fence in the corner of the paddock. I’ve
not yet* found a telltale pile of feathers left as evidence of some kind of struggle. Isadora swears she’s spotted them here or there, though this is unsubstantiated. On the first night that the lone hen spent without the two, she called out for them nonstop for hours. It nearly broke my heart. *updated
I’ve since moved all poultry off the pasture and into the fortified walls of the coop. There the lone turkey hen is one of three of her kind; two blue slate poults live there also, though their difference in age might render their shared species distinction moot for the time being.
But my ears are attuned to the distinct sounds of my missing turkeys – the strange squirt sound that reminds me of a video game sound effect, or the happy-go-lucky whistling that seems to indicate contentment. All of these sounds are absent from the turks in the coop. If the return of my two missing turks is not possible, then I will have to settle for the return of the contented murmurs of those who remain.
The following video is one I haven’t had a chance to share with you yet, one taken about a month ago.