Turkeys are at home in every natural element: earth, air, and water. Here are some descriptions by Audubon and others of turkeys swimming, cited in A.W.
Schorger, The Wild Turkey: Its History and Domestication, 1966:
Crossing a river: “The old and fat birds easily get over, even should the river be a mile in breadth; but the younger and less robust frequently fall
into the water, - not to be drowned, however, as might be imagined. They bring their wings close to their body, spread out their tail as a support, stretch
forward their neck, and striking out their legs with great vigour, proceed rapidly toward the shore; on approaching which, should they find it too steep
for landing, they cease their exertions for a few minutes, float down the stream until they come to an accessible part, and by a violent effort generally
extricate themselves from the water.” – John Jay Audubon, 1831.
“Poults [very young turkeys] swim surprisingly well. The attempted crossing of the Iowa River, where it was one hundred yards wide, by poults only a
few days old, was witnessed. The hen flew across the river and, in response to her loud calls, twelve to fourteen young ran quickly down the bank and
entered the water. Just before they reached the opposite bank the hen became frightened and, giving the alarm notes, flew back across the stream. The
poults immediately turned back. On reaching the strongest part of the current, about half of them gave up and floated with the stream. These young were
rescued from a boat and released after they became dry.”
In Alabama, “a hen was observed calling excitedly to two poults in the water. Their age was estimated at ten days. The water was at least one hundred
yards wide. The hen had evidently flown across and was calling her poults to her.” Another observer reports coming upon “a pair of adult
turkeys with six poults three or four days old. The birds scattered and one of the poults walked along a fallen tree extending into a pond. On reaching the
end of the tree, it entered the water and swam a distance of about thirty yards to the opposite shore. When picked up, it was cold and exhausted.”
This family of wild turkeys shares the land with Gay Bradshaw and Jeff Borchers in Jacksonville, Oregon. Jeff took these pictures earlier in the summer and we're delighted and honored to share them with you.
Photos are courtesy of the Kerulos Center (www.Kerulos.org) of which Dr. G.A. Bradshaw is the Executive Director.
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– Peter Singer, Author of Animal Liberation
Read our Turkeys Brochure to learn more.