Note: The Sierra Sun Times originally published this article in 2007.
November 13, 2016 - By Linda Gast - Autumn makes many people think of the holidays and family gatherings. Traditional feasts this time of year often center on domestic turkeys served in a grand fashion. The domestic bird, raised in large flocks, is quite different than its wild counterpart. Domestic turkeys have a reputation of being less than brilliant, docile, slow moving creatures. The wild bird is the complete opposite of the culinary breed.
On a beautiful fall morning this week I found myself stopping my car for the "turkey crossing" on Sherlock Rd. As I waited patiently I counted more than 30 turkeys taking their time crossing the road from the creek back up the hill to their roosting spot.
Many of these big fellows I had seen in the spring when they were tiny chicks. One of the turkeys looked like he may have escaped from some farmers pen. He stood out with his white feathers. Turkeys are polygynous with males gathering and defending harems of five or more females. In some urban areas they have become "pests", but here in the foothills they are just part of the wildlife we enjoy.
Introduced into California in 1877, the wild turkey has spread throughout many portions of the state. Populations now occur from Humboldt and Siskiyou Counties south to Santa Barbara, Riverside and San Diego Counties.