Spring Is Sprung… And Love Is in the Air, Or Is It Lust?

Grey squirrel Applegate Valley of southern Oregon, tackles a bird feeder. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

“Where are the birdies? The heck with the birdies, where’s the bird food?”

“Spring is sprung, the grass is ris. Let’s go where the birdies is.” Ogden Nash

A male dove just landed smack on top of a female dove. She flew away in disgust. But that didn’t stop her suitor. Nothing does. It’s that time of the year when the birds are in love, or at least in lust. They are twitterpated to the nth degree, a laugh a minute.

Tom turkeys are the most humorous.  These guys know how to strut their stuff. Full of self-importance, they parade back and forth in front of the hens with feathers fluffed out and tails in full display. Adding to the show, their snoods stand at attention and their wattles turn a bright red. And no, I am not being obscene. Their snoods are the red, fleshy protuberance you usually see draped over their beaks. Even their beards, the feathers hanging down from their chests, stand straight up.

Tom turkey on display in Upper Applegate Valley, southern Oregon.

“Shall we dance?” Young toms on parade. Is the flamenco too tough…

Tom turkeys strut their stuff in southern Oregon.

Then join the Conga Line.

You talking to me?

“You talking to me?” Note the gorgeous color of this tom turkey’s feathers.

These guys are in constant motion, so Tom is slightly out of focus. But check out his snood and bright red wattles. How could the girls resist?

These guys are in constant motion, so Tom is slightly out of focus. But check out his snood and bright red wattles. How could the girls resist?

As for gobbling, the toms do it in unison, staccato like. Heads and necks shoot out at the same time: Gobble, Gobble, Gobble. I gobble back, of course. How could I not? Their response is instantaneous, as if to put me in my place.

The hens totally ignore the show for the most part, and go about the serious business of eating. If they could yawn, I swear they would. Ho hum.

Each evening the flock uses the railing on our deck as a launching pad to fly to the tall Ponderosa Pines where they like to roost. (Turkeys need all the help they can get for lift-off.) Their morning starts at first light. Gobble, Gobble, Gobble. Lately they have been joining in chorus with the neighborhood dogs, who almost always have a howl fest around 6:30. It goes like this: Woof, Woof, Wooooooo, Gobble, Gobble, Gobble; Woof, Woof, Wooooooo, Gobble, Gobble, Gobble— on and on and on. Sleep is not an option.

Peggy and I have a front row seat on the wild kingdom. Each window has its view. I like our library the best. I turn my swivel chair around so I can watch the action while I write. I’ve recently added a bird feeder. It’s a round cage with openings set up to allow some of our smaller feathered friends a chance to eat without competition from their larger cousins. Finches, juncos, tanagers and nuthatches take advantage of the opportunity. Inevitably, some of the seeds fall on the ground. The tanagers are particularly messy eaters. Turkeys, tree squirrels, and ground squirrels consider it their responsibility to clean up the leftovers. Nothing goes to waste.

Our rustic back yard and the bird feeder. My look out window is on the right. A couple of years ago a black bear turned over the Weber Grill. My daughter Tasha was sleeping in the closest bedroom. "Curtis!" she yelled.

Our rustic back yard and the bird feeder. My look out window is on the right. A couple of years ago, a black bear turned over the Weber Grill. My daughter Tasha was sleeping in the closest bedroom. “Curtis!” she yelled.

The grey squirrels understand the source of the food and passionately believe they should have access to it. They are notorious in their efforts to help themselves, as demonstrated in the photo at the beginning of this blog. Here are three more examples.

Squirrel hangs upside down from a bird feeder in southern Oregon.

An upside down perspective.

A view from the side.

A view from the side.

"Let's see if I can unscrew this top."

“Let’s see if I can unscrew this top.”

Our grandsons Ethan and Cody got me this very appropriate T-shirt.

Our grandsons, Ethan and Cody, got me this very appropriate T-shirt.

Ground squirrels, of which we have far too many, also want to rob the source but lack the aerial capability of tree squirrels. It doesn’t mean they don’t try. I watched one try to shimmy up the metal pole attached to the bird feeder yesterday. He would get up about a foot and then slide down, only to try again. By the time I retrieved my camera he had given up. Larger birds are frustrated as well, but two acorn woodpeckers with long beaks and tongues have mastered the art obtaining sunflower seeds.

A ground squirrel peers through a glass pane on our door. "Come on Curt, lend a hand."

A ground squirrel peers through a glass pane on our door. “Come on Curt, lend a hand.”

Acorn woodpecker in Applegate Valley.

An acorn woodpecker is forced to ‘think outside the cage.’

Remember Linda Blair in the "Exorcist" and how she turned her head around backward on her neck? Now, check out the Acorn Woodpecker.

Remember Linda Blair in the “Exorcist” and how she turned her head around backward on her neck? Now, check out the Acorn Woodpecker. Am I looking at evil here? (grin)

Black tail deer are also daily visitors to our back yard. I find it surprising they don’t eat sunflower seeds since they seem to eat almost everything else. The does are looking quite pregnant now and will soon be disappearing into the woods to have their fawns. Bucks are in the process of growing new antlers, having lost the old ones in February. They took care of their mating duties in the fall.

"Hey Big Boy, looking for a little action?"

A doe and a buck checked each other out in our yard last fall. “Hey Big Boy, looking for a little action?”

Black tail deer in Applegate Valley in southern Oregon

It isn’t unusual for the deer to bed down in our yard, and sometimes on our back porch! We often find them staring in the window, as curious about us as we are about them. Such is life in the woods. Who needs TV?

One doe lies down next to the bird feeder.

One doe lies down next to the bird feeder.

Another chooses to lie down under our Madrone, just to the left of the first doe.

Another chooses to lie down under our Madrone, just to the left of the first doe.

And a third decides to take over our porch.

And a third decides to take over our porch. She is studiously ignoring me, BTW. If she can’t see me, I don’t exist.

It isn't unusual for deer to look in our windows. I caught this doe checking me out last summer while I sat in the library. Aren't the ears magnificent?

It isn’t unusual for deer to look in our windows. I caught this doe checking me out last summer while I sat in the library. Aren’t the ears magnificent?

20 comments on “Spring Is Sprung… And Love Is in the Air, Or Is It Lust?

    • We back up to extensive national forest lands on one side and a river on the other, Bill. The wildlife considers our property as an extension of their territory. As long as we behave ourselves, we are allowed to stay. 🙂 –Curt

  1. No turkeys on parade here, but I do have what may be the most persistent male pigeon in the world. He’s tried to entice every female around, strutting up and down my balcony rail and pirouetting to beat the band. No luck so far, but I think the girls just are playing hard to get.

    I’ll always prefer the squirrels, but those bedded deer are pretty dear. What a wonderful treat, to have living lawn ornaments!

    • I have to agree, Linda. Male pigeons are equally ardent to turkeys when it comes to courting and display. And so darn insistent. The harder they work, the more the girls seem to ignore them.

      The squirrels eventually learn that their antics don’t work. But I think the tree squirrel knocks a few seeds loose each time he climbs around on the feeder. It may be enough to keep him coming back.

      The deer are delightful, and soon they will bring by their babies, which is even more delightful. —Curt

  2. You are clearly in the middle of a wildlife sanctuary – how wonderful. We are having a more domestic version of the same here. The mating pigeons make such a racket, all bashing wings and no vocals, they sound like a playground fight.

    • The turkeys use their wings as weapons as well. They also beak wrestle, which is like arm wrestling (or calf wrestling) but done with beaks. 🙂 We do love the wildlife and are constantly amused. We aren’t alone, Hilary. I was reading about your hedgehog this morning… —Curt

  3. Always on my quest to find deer resistant plants to add a few sparks of color, encourage the hummingbirds…butterflies, etc. Quite the challenge here but, did anyone notice the foxglove in the background? That is now my “go to” plant. Foxglove, it is, for all of the container gardens this spring! Peggy

  4. Love the shot of the squirrel peering in through the window!!! And are they fairly crafty little beings. After all, they can baffle the squirrel bafflers you buy in the stores to keep ’em out! Maybe we should give credit where credit is due!

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