Friend or foe?

Aaah, springtime! There are so many great things that happen in the spring: beautiful flowers come into bloom, the trees are full of bright green buds, temperatures are perfect for outside adventures, baby animals are in abundance, and suddenly every living thing seems rejuvenated!

And those changes in activity and behavior also apply to the museum animals. Wendy the woodchuck has come out of hibernation and is starting to climb around her exhibit and run around the support hall again. Our bears have become more active and are eating, swimming and wrestling more. Some of our snakes are starting to eat more, as well. For some of our farmyard animals such as Max the steer and Chummy the goat, spring has brought about more rambunctious and playful behavior than normal. But for our farmyard birds such as Ozzie the turkey and Scout the duck, spring takes on a different meaning: it’s time to find a mate!

Being that they are both males, this time of year means that they become more aggressive because in the wild they would have to ward off other males from any prospective females. Unfortunately, the animal keepers tend to take the place of the “other males”, so we get the brunt of it (but, hey, it’s just part of the job)! For turkey, it also means that he starts to display his beautiful feathers for anyone that will watch! He will puff his feathers up and make himself look bigger than he actually is, and then lightly drag his wing feathers across the ground as he walks to make lines in the dirt. However, turkey does not have any other male or female turkeys to display to. So, of course, he instead has been displaying to none other than… duck!

The keepers have been amused for the last week or so when we get a chance to watch turkey come out of his enclosure in the morning and walk around the farmyard, and the first thing he does is go over to duck’s fence and start displaying for him. Of course, it’s impossible for us to know if he’s telling duck that he is the “head honcho male”, or if it is a confused effort to woo the water fowl, but either way it’s kind of funny! Below is a video that Kristen took a while back of turkey displaying around the farmyard. Take a look!

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