Nov 10 2011

My Life As A Turkey

Published by at 7:30 am under Books & Events,Doves & Chickens

Next Wednesday on PBS Nature...

Back in the 1990's biologist and wildlife artist Joe Hutto spent two years in the Florida Flatwoods as mother to a flock of wild turkeys.

It began when a neighboring farmer dropped off a clutch of 16 orphaned wild turkey eggs and Joe decided to imprint them.

When the eggs hatched Joe made sure the first pair of eyes they saw were his own.  The hatchlings immediately recognized him as their mother and thus began the strange and wonderful journey that became his 1998 book, Illumination in the Flatwoods.

My Life as a Turkey shows what happened, the joys of discovery and the sadness of death, as the peeps became poults and then adult birds.  Day after day, week after week, Joe's bond with his turkeys grew stronger.  The more time he spent with them, the more he learned and the less detached he became.  He was their parent, they were his family.  He learned to live in the present as they did.  He often felt more turkey than human.

My Life As A Turkey is beautiful, moving, sad and fascinating.

“Had I known what was in store—the difficult nature of the study and the time I was about to invest—I would have been hard pressed to justify such an intense involvement. But, fortunately, I naively allowed myself to blunder into a two-year commitment that was at once exhausting, often overwhelming, enlightening, and one of the most inspiring and satisfying experiences of my life.”

–Joe Hutto, Illumination in the Flatwoods

Don't miss My Life As A Turkey next Wednesday, November 16 on PBS Nature.  On WQED it's at 8:00pm.

You will never look at a wild turkey the same way again.

(photo from My Life As A Turkey)

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “My Life As A Turkey”

  1. Kathy McCharenon 10 Nov 2011 at 8:05 am

    I’m so glad to see this on your blog, Kate. I met Joe years ago through friends and I’m very much looking forward to watching it next week. Your readers might also be interested in his latest book, “The Light In High Places: A Naturalist Looks at Wyoming Wilderness–Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Cowboys, and Other Rare Species”.

    The show on Harpy Eagles was fascinating–I loved seeing the mom feeding her chick…

  2. kellyon 10 Nov 2011 at 11:15 am

    I’m torn between reading the book and watching the program. Darn.

  3. Kate St. Johnon 10 Nov 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Both! I’ve seen the program & just got the book in the mail (today) from Amazon. The book is written in diary form with drawings and photos. The two media complement each other.

  4. Kathyon 10 Nov 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I can’t wait to see the program..and I too just ordered the book. Thanks again, Kate for what will I’m sure be a wonderful experience.

  5. Terrion 10 Nov 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Aww! Definitely going to watch. Also, tonight’s Nature about the harpie eagle looks pretty good, too.

  6. Kate St. Johnon 10 Nov 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Terri, I hope you’re watching a rebroadcast or will watch somewhere other than on WQED. Jungle Eagle was on last night (Wednesday) on WQED.
    Here’s the full episode, viewable on the web:

  7. Lynne Wohleberon 11 Nov 2011 at 5:40 pm

    I can’t quite identify with being mother to a flock, but my back yard is often frequented by a mother turkey and her flock of 8 young ones … this past springs grown-up hatchlings. I also have an elderly turkey who has adopted my yard for probably 5 years now. She comes to the back door and taps on the glass when she wants her peanuts, then chirps at me until I throw them. She also does the same thing, but with a scolding sound, when there’s a squirrel sitting in the feeding bowl. If she’s in a neighboring yard, she comes running when I open the door. Unfortunately, I have choir reheasal at the time when the program is on or I would definitely be watching it.

  8. Anne Curtison 12 Nov 2011 at 11:29 pm

    We have had six hens (watched them grow from babies from a single mom–as far as I could tell) all summer. They range from Beelermont down a wooded hillside to Beeler, then up Gatewood, or thru the yards, to Unger. They generally get here about 12 or 1. They like the berries on our neighbors’ trees. It was also fun to watch one on top of a neighbor’s flat porch roof one day. By the time I got my camera, she was on the move! They move on up our back yard to the old Heinz estate. (I think it’s called Sancta Sophia, now.) This has been an almost-daily event, but I haven’t seen them this past week.


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