Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This is Jim Bumgarner Sr with his loyal friend "Bugsy" the wild (watch) turkey.  Jim wrote a short piece about discovering Bugsy that I include below.  This picture comes from the gallery "Humanimals: family" and you can jump there to see what it is like to grow up in a wildlife conservation rescue area.  Click here for:  Gallery of family and fauna in the valley

 For several years my wife and I raised wild orphan animals.  We raised several squirrels, several raccoons, four foxes, four fawns, one coyote and one wild turkey.  We enjoyed them all but if I had to pick a favorite it would have to be Bugsy, our wild turkey.

I was mowing at my farm one spring day and I scared up a wild turkey.  I found her nest.  It had eight eggs in it. I had been told that if a nesting turkey was disturbed like this, they would never return to the nest. I left this area for several hours and then walked back to check the nest.  There was no mother and the eggs were getting cold.  I took four of the eggs home and put them in a small-borrowed incubator.  My conscience was clear when I returned to the nest the next day and found it destroyed.

I was really quite surprised when two weeks later two of the eggs hatched.  One baby died in a few hours.  The second one was quite healthy and was drinking water and eating poultry food quite quickly.  For the first few days we kept her in a cardboard box in the garage but she took to the outdoors quite quickly and was soon finding bugs and half jumping and half flying up to the lower tree branches.  I was afraid of predators at night so every evening I would walk her to the shed.  She would jump and fly to the rafters and stay there until I opened the door the next morning and when I return she would immediately fly down and spend the day in the yard and garden.  If I would go out on the deck and sit on a bench   she would come up and sit beside me always on my left side and stay there as long as I remained.  Bugsy liked to follow us on our walks along the paths through the woods-- always looking for bugs.  She would fly off from us but return in a few minutes. We’d see her fifty yards away or so from the house with other turkeys but she never went with them.

When she was hungry she would peck on the picture window until someone fed her.  In the spring she would still come sit by me on the deck. She would accompany my wife to the garden.  One day I heard a yelp from the garden and my wife said Bugsy pecked her on the rump when she was leaning over.

I guess Bugsy liked the response she got because this act was repeated many times.  If I heard a yelp from the garden, I knew that Bugsy had gotten her again.  Bugsy also started the habit of pecking on my pant leg and shoes.  I assume this was her attempt to play. [Editors note: This was his generous interpretation—the rest of us felt were far less charmed and believed we were being warned and thus, tried to steer clear of Jim’s “watch turkey”].  

That summer, Bugsy ate all the bugs around the house so I had to start bringing her grasshoppers from the farm.  I would catch hundreds of them with a butterfly net while driving my ATV. I would put about dozen in plastic bags and keep them in the refrigerator. She soon knew the meaning of the plastic bags and when I’d come out with one she would come running.

We were surprised when Bugsy stayed with us through the winter.  By now she was putting herself to bed in the shed and eventually she started sleeping high in the trees.  We would feed her and give her a bit of grain every day.  After sixteen months with us, Bugsy left for good.  We never saw her again but later we learned a bit more.

In an area that lies to the northwest of us there is a neighborhood called Timberhill.  One day a woman living there heard a tapping sound on her picture window.  She looked up and was amazed to see a turkey on her deck pecking on her window.  She opened the door and the turkey ran toward her.  She evidently was frightened by this behavior and ran to the phone and dialed 911.  When she calmed down, she reasoned that this was someone’s tame turkey so she threw some birdseed out.  She and her next-door neighbor fed Bugsy for several weeks   - James E. Bumgarner 

Check out other wacky photos of otherwise respectable people living with animals and for my family-- I just had to share. No one will recognize you guys, really.

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