Turkey Time / by Chris Maynard

 Turkey Tails Feather Fan.

Turkey Tails Feather Fan.

This year for the first time, turkeys graced my field. I got these heritage turkeys from a friend who selectively bred them for their beautiful feathers.  I quickly became enamored with the birds themselves, not just their feathers.  They pretty much raised themselves. My small flock was given free range, though I clipped their wing feathers so I guess they weren’t entirely free. Nevertheless, they could hop the fence from my field into my neighbor’s. Which is what happened when my neighbor’s Chihuahua grabbed one. The bird was fine but this taught the flock to stick closer to home.

The big Tom turkey strutted around, always showing off his tail feathers. I like to use them in my art but I knew that by the time he shed his, they would be ratty and useless for me. I’d heard that if you pull fresh, fully grown feathers, that the bird will regrow them. But I was loath to do it as this bird was trusting, kind of like a friend. But after consulting several people, I reluctantly decided to do it. After grabbing the bird (as he walked right up to me) I began to pull his tail feathers. He didn’t flinch or seem to be in pain and the feathers came out smoothly and easily. He still walks up to me but seems to be a bit embarrassed having no tail to strut, even though he still tries.