Wildlife 2

Mountain Chickadee on Ponderosa Pine Branch

Took these images at  -5* one morning in the Kettle River Valley, this little chickadee is all fluffed up to keep what little body heat it has in place. For this little creature survival these frigid nights, it can put on fat equal to 10% of its body weight in one day, and burn it off using selective muscle shivering by the early morning hour. Go figure that formula out for your body size.

Mountain chickadee in pine forest
The smaller the bird, the harder it is to stay warm, and the more food it requires for its size. These winter foragers frequent my feeders daily for oil-rich sunflower seeds and nuts. While I enjoy feeding and having the birds here during the winter the research of Dr. Thomas Grubb, of Ohio State University, shows that the chickadees and nuthatches get through the winter in better nutritional condition if they have access to bird feeders. Works for me…

Red Breasted Nuthatch

Red Breasted Nuthatch on Ponderosa Pine Tree

Red Breasted Nuthatch (note scale - claw size to body)

Wild Merriam Turkey - Okanogan Highlands
These wild turkeys are named after Clinton Hart Merriam, the first chief of the U.S. Biological Survey, formerly referred to as Merriam Turkeys, although I’ve never heard them called that in day-to-day speech. Generally speaking they are the largest upland bird in the Okanogan Highlands. Couple of years ago my neighbor had a Tom turkey and a male Canada goose stand-off in his backyard. The birds slammed their chests into each other with wings at full span. He said it was quite the sight.

Two Wild Merriam Turkey On The Edge Of Pine Forest
The rugged, mountainous valleys of the Okanogan Highlands is rich in wildlife with many species of large, upland birds – this subspecies, named the Merriam's Wild Turkeys (named in 1900 in honor of Clinton Hart Merriam, the first chief of the U.S. Biological Survey) live in Ponderosa Pine forests. If you count closely you’ll be able to see all 18 tail feathers (indicating full maturity). The tail and lower back feathers have white tips and purple and bronze reflections. Just after this photo we heard the toms gobbling in the forest on the nearby mountain slope. Gobbling can happen at all times of the year but the active toms will begin the heaviest early April through early June.

A Tom (left) and Gobbler (hen) Wild Merriam Turkey

A Young Tom Is A Jake - Wild Merriam Turkey

A Tom Wild Merriam Turkey Displaying It's Snood

A Tom In Full Display
 An interesting point of note: a turkey's head can change color. From white, to blue, to full red. Red headed birds typically mean that the bird is in a fighting mood. Blue and white will mean they are ready to breed.

Side View Wild Tom In Full Display
Okay, you gotta’ admit these are interesting looking birds. Wild turkey males display a bristly wattle extending off the neck just above a beard that is really a cluster of specialized feathers growing from the center of his breast.  The above combined with very large and stocky with bare head and long neck, well it lends itself to a curious appearance. And a snood?  It’s that fleshy mass over their beak.  It’s all about sex. The male, or tom, turkeys have a number of features experts believe are intended to attract female turkeys (hens).  As turkeys are polygamous and mate with as many hens as they can attract, the more spectacular wattle and snood will result in more breeding success. Of course it’s a package deal - a tom’s plumage of bright colors and unique features are for attraction as well.  His feathers have areas of green, copper, bronze, red, purple, and gold iridescence. 

There's a contact between competing Toms here. The dominant male is staying
between the females and the upcoming challenger.


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