The irony in bird watching is that the birds you often seek by crouching for hours in the woods waiting for a simple, plaintive song more times than not don’t show up making your stealthy, early morning walks for nought. On the other hand, you can be more successful if you hang out near well-supplied feeders and just wait. From our perch at the Ramsey Canyon B&B we were no exception as hummingbirds, grosbeaks, jays and other fowl came to visit us or more accurately the feeders off the porch. These we expected. What we did not expect was the daily invasion by turkeys: Mexican turkeys. According to other birding aficionados at the inn, these birds had been hunted to extinction in the area but have recently reintroduced themselves moving north. And they are flourishing. Unlike their wild turkey cousins of the north (which Ben Franklin wanted to make the national bird,) these specimens (the subspecies Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo) are the wild ancestors of the domesticated turkey that ends up on our dinner plates. Strangely, they have been living in this area and south for thousands of years having been bred for Mayan rituals.
So as we strain to see the tiny and flittering 8+ species of hummingbirds the canyon is known for this time of year that come and go in a flash, these birds are huge, noisy and in your face and stick around for a while. You can hear them up and down the canyon with males trying to cordon off the females for breeding. And they know we are harmless as they prance right next to our chairs on the porch. The males puff themselves up and then extend their bottom feathers so to scrape the ground producing a loud rasping noise.
But for such a large bird, they can be rather stealthy and can sneak up on one fairly easily. Juana was drawing by the stream when a female came up right behind her and went down to the water for a drink. She added it to her drawing. Mexican turkeys were a fun contrast to the other birds we were watching but a friend of mine put it in perspective when I sent him a picture of them. He replied with a single word: Dinner.