He inflates himself in front of his hens. Up and around his tail he fans and out he thrusts his feathers so fine.
Don’t they see him? With such finery, an array of feathers that would make a milliner weep, he dominates the East Bay Hills social scene.
In a more relaxed mode, his profile will return him to large duck status, and he will scratch methodically through the dry leaf duff, one of thirty birds moving like a small brigade up the side of a hill. He will soon be known as just another stupid turkey.
But for now, he is himself, an overstuffed rather proud bird who, by virtue of his plumed regalia, believes his hens will follow. So off he struts, in an angular square dance, backing up, going forward, backing up, and going forward like a turkey bumper car. To compensate for this ungainly cadence, and attract his hens, he produces his feather show.
Now. There; he’s done it.
Where are the hens?
Behind him and around him, in the dirt they work their beaks to the nubs, knocking rocks and flaying worms, stripping grasses and uprooting squirms.
But never mind their efforts!
It is all about him, this puffed-up poof with his arches, color, and bravado.
Good for him!
And what’s to criticize?
That he carries on traditional courtship?
That he is manly?
That he plans to act on his show of virility? (And he does)
That his successful procreation causes his species to be called the new deer?
This flexed fan of quills is not unlike many men I know.
Photo by Cheri Block Sabraw 2009 Ted Turkey on the T.K.