Wild turkeys spend the night in high roosts to help avoid predators, and fly-up time is always a special treat when you get to see it. I was in the right place when a flock of old gobblers came for a last minute drink before hammering up into the cottonwoods.
Turkeys spend most of their time on the ground, pecking and feeding as they travel on foot. But they can also fly, and I’m always amazed when these 20-pound birds can power up and over 100-foot trees if necessary. Giant Canada geese, swans, and other large migrants are more understandable – they spend hours in the air each day. But turkeys basically spend less than a minute a day in normal flight. Still, they’re able to get the job done.
These old toms assembled beneath the roost at sundown, and each took a running start to get airborne. This time, the climb path was fairly gentle into the 50-foot branches. On a still night, you can hear the whump-whump-whump of beating wings several hundred yards away when turkeys go to roost. Look for feathers in these places: the big birds often knock them out when they plow through branch tips while flying up.