Was she kidnapped, or did she depart voluntarily?

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

On the border of northwest LeSueur County nestles a little farm alive with noisy poultry… haughty hens, gaggling geese, titillated turkeys, gossiping ducks, silent rabbits with anxious eyes, and a few goats wandering aimlessly about. During daylight hours as spring approaches, the air is frequently rent by the cry of a gaudy peacock, while a white female stands nearby admiring his multicolored spread of mottled feathers, green and black apparel; spring duds. For the most part, each 24 hours goes by peacefully, with faithful dog Spice on patrol 24/7, his sensitive ears and piercing eyes alert for the least noise or minute disturbance. He may miss small rodents such as Eastern short-tailed shrews, but a band of multi-colored cats are always ready to pounce on marauding mice.

This past week, while the poultry farm owner, Vern Bienfang, was doling out lavish brunch and lunch to his animals, he was taken aback by a flock of dark noisy strangers marching from a nearby woodland toward the high fences which surround the farm. Seems that a sizeable flock of wild turkeys had discovered a few morsels of sustenance in a harvested field nearby. Birds in the Bienfang enclosure became excited, emitting challenges and salty language at the wild birds as the roaming flock approached very close to the Bienfang menagerie. Of a sudden, a curious young WHITE hen turkey decided to slip through the safe enclosure and join the wild group which headed back to the nearby woodland. Naïve as she was, she followed the cocky wild group, and, hasn’t been seen since! Lured away into the unknown. Whitie has been absent since before 1 February.

This story leads us to all kinds of conjecture.
Wild turkeys roost at night high in trees during all kinds of weather. Whitie has been locked away at night and is accustomed to her brown protector, Spice. Does she know a dog from a coyote? Will she pair with a wild turkey, and what color offspring could be produced? Perhaps freedom isn’t free?

Last week Greg and JoEllen Genelin (on the heights west of Bucks’ Lake) reported sixteen Mourning doves feeding away under their bird feeding stations. THIS week SIXTY of the super gentle birds dropped in for a picnic? The birds must have heard that February 3rd was “Feed the Birds Day” across the United States? At least, in our neck of the woods more common birds blew in on that date for a meal than had been present for days/weeks. Birders across the world will be performing a major bird count dubbed the Great Backyard Bird Count February 16th – 19th. Even if you don’t actively participate, the site is very educational, no cost, but intriguing.

For thirty-five years we’ve kept a nature notebook, and find it more than interesting to appraise oneself as to what happened ‘then’ and what is occurring in nature ‘now.’ With current computer technology, it’s a much easier process to tabulate current conditions than it was in the past. For instance, a year ago, we were up over our knees (and other body parts) in the white stuff.). Over-wintering robins abounded in LeSueur and Henderson. Snowmobilers and snow removal participants were having a blast! Shirley and Mark Katzenmeyer, east LeSueur, spread barn debris containing corn kernels on deep snow for the Trumpeter swans to survive. 2023 was a memorable winter, yet… so is 2024.

We went hunting for Trumpeter Swans February 4th, and discovered forty-five of the majestic birds within a mile of the Caribou Gun Club, while many Canada geese pierced the evening twilight. February 4th, a scraggly male common House sparrow began singing to his ‘lovely’ from behind the metallic sign above the south door at Holiday; his heart fit to burst. Valentine’s Day must be near? One season slipping into another.