Spring flowers
autumn moon
summer breezes
winter snow:

With mind uncluttered
·  this is  ·
the finest season!

-Wúmén Huìkāi

Dust bath

Our native (actually, re-introduced) turkeys—Meleagris gallopavo—are as fastidious as other avians hereabouts. To maintain appearance, comfort and health, they bill-groom frequently with the aid of a long and flexible neck:


And even when a hygiene error occurs, they have the good taste to appear embarrassed:


Poking and preening do not suffice to control feather mites and other parasites, however. And absent a suitable puddle, or perhaps even in preference in some cases, dirt will do.

More than most birds, turkeys wander around scratching up all sorts of soils, leaves, gravel and other friable surfaces in search of edibles. The power, depth and rate of this strip-mining can be impressive; here, about two square yards of carefully applied mulch were largely cleared in under 15 minutes:


When the ground is dry and the topsoil especially fine-grained, harrowing for seeds and grubs may reveal another opportunity. On open ground everywhere around here, one encounters freshly tilled patches of dust, usually with some degree of depression. Though also employed by mammals for a similar purpose, these usually show tracks and other signs of creation and use by birds. Even absent identifying footprints or claw marks, the general size of the bowl correlates pretty well with that of the user. In this case,


a pair of hollows (perhaps the first wasn’t dusty enough?),  each more than one foot wide, was made by a large tom turkey. Forming and fluffing such a bath can take two or three minutes, at the quick end for this light mix of wood chips and glacial-flour subsoil.

A session in the prepared bath typically takes about three to five minutes, and looks something like this, with violent contortions





followed by settling down in the warm cavity, resting and perhaps looking around for potential predators attracted by the noisy and dusty commotion


followed by more of same (“lather, rinse, repeat”)




and then a final shake-out



before striding away clean and shining: