Why does amazing bird stuff keep happening to me? I have enough to do keeping up with the birds that get into trouble on our 80 acres, not to mention the five calls a day from people all over the state wondering what to do with theirs.
Arrrggghhh. You don't want little lost turkeys wandering up to you. Because then they become your problem.
They couldn't find Mom; they'd been trying all morning and here it was noon and they were tired and hot so they settled for the nearest big slow- moving things they could find. This instinct to follow in young galliniformes is very strong. Although they pick up their own food from hatching day on, their lives depend on staying close to their mothers. Mom knows what to do when danger threatens; Mom's there to shield them from sun, rain and hail; she shows them good things to eat and where to drink, and she takes them up in the trees to roost under her wings at night.
Of course I began to worry about them the moment I laid eyes on them; I was magnetically pulled to help them. We let them wander around the yard for another two hours while we entertained, but all the while I was brooding about what I could do for them. So when the time came for our guests to leave I explained that I wouldn't be accompanying them down Newell's Run as I'd planned. I had turkeys to tend. I needed to find their mama. Being birdwatchers, they understood. We all have our priorities.
Before the group left, I recruited a few volunteers and when the turkeys headed out into the open lawn we sprinted to cut them off. I nabbed one as it zigzagged wildly, then huddled by my shoe (awww!) and the other darted into the rose hedge (rats!) where it took a few more minutes and some thorny abuse to my arms before my fingers finally closed around its downy little body.
I put them in a pet carrier with a dish of water and some chick starter, which they ignored. Oh, crap. Now what? They were peeping and peeping...So we waved everybody good bye and I donned my field clothes and set out for a two-hour walk around our property with the pet carrier under my arm, two shrilling baby turkeys inside it. I figured if I couldn't find their mom, she might find us by the loud location calls. I took my very best turkey hunting dog, Chet Baker, and told him that if he found a turkeh he was not to chase it but to wait quietly by me. He said he would. He walked just in front of me, quiet as a mouse, watching and sniffing, staying close and alert. Good boy, Chet.
But after two hours all Chet and I had found was two cast turkey feathers, shining bronze in the green. The forest was silent. I was soaked with sweat and branded right through my long pants with stinging nettle welts. Note to self: Columbia "Titanium" zip-off pants are useless in the forest. You might as well be in hotpants. You might as well not wear any pants. Just waltz out there naked. They're too thin to stop stinging nettles. They might stop a halt, feeble or newborn mosquito. But maybe not.