After we got over our initial astonishment at seeing a real turkey in our backyard, my husband opened the window and shooed it away. It ran, head a’bobbin’ for the marshy meadow beyond. A few days later, though, we noticed it again, filling up on the songbirds’ chow. But before we could do anything, the dominant bird of our feeder, a hellacious redwing blackbird we call “The Maitre d” (because he decides when the feeder is open and which birds will or will not get a perch that morning), took care of business himself. Although as small as David was to Goliath, our gutsy guy puffed himself up and attacked the turkey’s feet, squawking and pecking fiercely. The turkey, as you see in the photo, ran for dear life . . . and has been kept away to this day.
We were more than impressed with our glossy-winged sentry. According to birdish sources, this behavior is not at all unusual for redwing blackbirds. They’ve been deemed among the bravest of birds, defending their territories and the nests of their females from animals and much larger birds. Not only do they call and flap at danger, but they don’t mind outright attacking, as we witnessed with the unfortunately turkey. These confident birds, it is said, are real swashbucklers – doing everything they can to get noticed by their ladies, and doing everything, afterward, to protect those ladies, and their families, in kind.
Our bird drama amused us for days. It’s amazing what you can see by simply looking. A romantic tale of ladies and gentlemen . . . and a big-bellied thief chased back to the shadows. All for the price of a little birdseed.