A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Single Lady

I first saw her a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. She was limping along to the small water trough in the yard. I always put some birdseed out on the ground there. She stood on one leg, holding her injured right leg in the air. After having her fill of the milo, millet, and sunflower seed mixture, she hopped up on the edge of the tank for a drink. Perched there alone, without a flock to stand watch, she alternately drank and looked around for any sign of danger. 

I didn't expect her to survive long. Last year we found the remains of a turkey that died a violent death at the hands of a bobcat. The scene of destruction told the story, wings ripped off and bones scattered. 

When we were kids we had a little parakeet that was crippled. We had caught him in the backyard, an escapee from somewhere, on the run. We unimaginatively named him "Crip". He could open his cage and he would fly around the room and land on our heads and shoulders. One day he made his getaway out the door and we never found him. He was a bird with a lot of self-confidence. We thought we had saved him but apparently we were holding him back from his life's adventure. 

This morning, as it has been every day for awhile, I'm surrounded by a flock of about 30 hens. They move from turkey feeder to deer feeder to water trough, hitting all the birdseed spots on their walk. They're a family of mothers and daughters, sisters and aunts. They don't tolerate the male species in their group. This is ok with the gobblers; they have their own agenda with the hens and it's not the right time of year for that. 

Yesterday the injured turkey hen was back at the water trough. She kept her own watchful lookout as she ate and drank, then she left. She can't keep up with the flock so she travels on her own. I wonder does she join them at night to roost. Or do they shun her as not being one of the gang, one of the sisters. 

The desire to protect her, to "save" her, surfaces when I watch her hop around. But it's possible she neither needs nor wants saving. She has her freedom and other than her limp, she seems healthy. She doesn't hang her head in despair. She walks with that "turkey pride" that I see in all the wild turkeys. This land is her home and she knows her way around. We keep the turkey feeder full of milo all the time, so she has plenty to eat, and she has water. 

And as I learned from our friend Crip, she may not see herself as crippled or challenged. She's a bird with a lot of self-confidence. I don't want to hold her back. 

I think I'll call her Beyonce.