Posts Tagged ‘Eldorado Mountain’

The Real Turkeys of Boulder

December 7, 2016

Slow though the process of selection may be, if feeble man can do much by his powers of artificial selection, I can see no limit to the amount of change, to the beauty and infinite complexity of the co-adaptations between all organic beings, one with another and with their physical conditions of life, which may be effected in the long course of time by nature’s power of selection.

— Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species

I was out walking on Boulder Colorado’s  Goshawk Ridge Trail after the US Thanksgiving Day and I saw a single line of at least 15 Wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) cross the trail in front of me. This seemed ironic as Thanksgiving is a time when lots of domesticated turkeys in the US are sacrificed for dinner. According to the National Turkey Federation, 95 percent of Americans surveyed eat turkey during Thanksgiving. They also estimate that about 45 million turkeys are consumed each Thanksgiving holiday.

I was sorry I didn’t have my telephoto lens and an off-trail permit to get some photos of these real, not for sandwiches, naturally selected (vs. artificially selected) turkeys. I was determined to return and get some photos for you.

Our journey starts on the Fowler Trailhead. To get to the Fowler Trailhead go left about two miles west of highway 93 on Eldorado Springs Drive (highway 170) to County Road 67. County Road 67 goes up past the Eldorado Mountain Yoga Ashram and ends at the Eldorado Mountain entrance where we pick up the trail…

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Eldorado Mountain Trailhead Sign

Here’s a trail map…

map

Take the Fowler to Springbrook North to Goshawk Ridge

The Goshawk Ridge Trail is within the Eldorado Mountain Habitat Conservation Area (HCA), meaning hikers must stay on trail unless they have an Off-Trail Permit. This free permit can be immediately obtained on-line.

Follow the Fowler Trail to the Springbrook  Trail. The  Goshawk Trailhead starts on the opposite side of a metal bridge over an aqueduct where you will see this sign…

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Sign at Goshawk Trail

After several fruitless attempts I found a flock on 05 December 2016 in the old growth forest on the South side of the Ridge about 1/3 mile (550 m) from the trailhead…

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I Found a Flock!

 Some Wild turkey facts:

-The wild turkey, throughout its range, plays a significant role in the cultures of many Native American tribes all over North America. Thanks to this we eat turkey on Thanksgiving day.

-The turkey was Benjamin Franklin’s choice for the United States’ national bird. He described the Great Seal…

“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… “

If the turkey was chosen as the US National Bird would we eat bald eagles for Thanksgiving?

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United States National Bird (Almost)

-By the early 20th century, thanks to hunting and habitat destruction, wild turkeys no longer roamed over much of their traditional range. Wild turkey reintroduction programs began in the 1940s. These efforts worked well and wild turkeys now live across North America.

-Only adult male turkeys (Toms) display the ruffled feathers, fanlike tail and bare head commonly associated with these birds. They also gobble with a distinctive sound that can be heard a mile (a kilometer and a half) away.

-Wild turkeys can have over 5,000 feathers. Male turkeys also have what is called a beard located in the chest area. Upon sight, the beard appears to be hair, but is actually a mass of thin feathers.

-Turkeys have a keen sense of hearing and can pinpoint sounds from as far as a mile away.

-Despite their weight, wild turkeys, unlike their domesticated counterparts, are agile fliers. They usually fly close to the ground for no more than a quarter mile (400 m) at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour (88 kilometers/hr.)…

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These Wings Are Made For Flying (note the “beard” growing from the breast)

-Males are polygamous, mating with as many hens as they can charm and may be seen courting in groups. Genetic analysis of pairs of males courting together shows that they are close relatives, with half of their genetic material being identical. This evolutionary strategy is unlike that of species (e.g., deer) where only the dominant male mates. This ensures that non-dominant male’s genes will have an opportunity to remain in the turkey gene pool…

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Two Wild and Crazy Toms

-Turkey hens lay 4 to 17 eggs in early spring. The eggs are incubated for at least 28 days. The hatchlings are called poults and they hit the ground running. They are precocial (they are born able to survive) and nidifugous (they leave the nest shortly after hatching). Poults leave the nest in about 12–24 hours allowing mom to join the flock as a free bird. Hens do not invest much in rearing offspring because they don’t have to. Male turkeys don’t invest any effort in their offspring because that’s the way it is for turkeys.

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Two Hens

-Occasionally, turkeys may behave aggressively towards humans. They have been seen to chase people. However, attacks can usually be deterred and minor injuries can be avoided by giving turkeys a respectful amount of space. A telephoto lens is required!

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Thirsty Hen

– Predators of both adults and poults include coyotes (Canis latrans),  American black bears (Ursus americanus), and northern goshawks (Accipiter gentilis). This may explain why the latter are attracted to this forest.

-Wild turkeys are omnivorous, foraging on the ground or climbing shrubs and small trees to feed. Turkey populations can reach large numbers in small areas because of their ability to forage for different types of food.

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Tom Foraging on the Forest Floor

I discovered this young mule deer buck (Odocoileus hemionus) watching me photograph the turkeys. He appears to be saying…

young-buck

How About Taking My Picture?

Wild turkeys have been created and evolved by natural selection. This makes them precisely adapted to the environments they inhabit. They are amazing and beautiful wild creatures reflecting the influence of the natural world.

Domesticated turkeys have been selectively bred by humans to satisfy our needs with traits that we want. The result is a freak unsuited for the natural world. For example, domesticated turkeys are bred to have large breast muscles. The big breast muscles on these turkeys make it too difficult for mating, so they must be artificially inseminated. What a life…

turkeys

Modern Domesticated Turkeys Under Commercial Conditions. Photo by Scott Bauer

I prefer tofu.

 

 

Sizzling Sumac on the Homestead

October 25, 2012

“Now by the brook the maple leans
With all his glory spread,
And all the sumachs on the hills
Have turned their green to red.”

– from Indian Summer /William Wilfred Campbell

South Mesa Fall Sumac Vista Captured 1 October 2012 10:30am @ 39°56’25.45″N 105°15’36.88″W

Snow is on the way so it is time to return to the South Mesa Trailhead to celebrate the spectacle of fall in sumac country before it fades to white. This fall mosaic is tiled with sumac…

Crimson and Gold Mosaic Under The Pines

Rhus aromatica gold and Rhus glabra crimson tiles…

Rhus aromatica Gold

Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac) Crimson

Both plants are related to but much kinder than their evil cousin Toxicodendron rydbergii (poison ivy). This family includes several species (Cashew, Pistachio, Mango) of economic importance. The drupes of the genus Rhus are ground into a deep-red or purple powder used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine. A drink made from the drupes is known as Sumac-ade.

Mandy and I decided to hike up the newly rerouted Homestead Trail. A steep section up a mesa was replaced with a switch back offering sweeping views of Eldorado Mountain and the South Boulder Creek below. Our hike starts at the South Mesa Trailhead. After a short walk across the South Boulder Creek bridge we pickup the Homestead Trail which starts next to the Dunn House. Be sure to read the interpretative sign, this area is rich with cultural artifacts. There is even a downloadable audible walking tour available from the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks department.

The Dunn House marks the Towhee Trail

We follow the trail to the Homestead trailhead and go west…

Go Left Up the Mesa

We climb above the South Boulder Creek  with views of the canyons and mountains to the west…

The Trail Provides Views of Eldorado Canyon and Mountain Mandy

I found a great spot on the mesa to set up my panorama tripod to capture some large vistas of Eldorado Mountain and Eldorado Canyon State Park. Can you see the Mickey Mouse Climbing Wall? Click here to open a 360 degree view.

View from the Homestead Trail (39°56’18.81″N 105°16’9.29″W)

Just then an Amtrak train went chugging up Eldorado Mountain on its way west via the route of the California Zephyr

I Think I Can…I Think I Can

More South Boulder Creek Color

View from the Ridge

Some Cottonwoods Add Yellow

Who Needs A Bridge Across the South Boulder Creek?

With color in the camera we are ready for the snow. Soon it will look like this.
South Mesa Winter Sumac Captured 23 Feb 2010 9:07 am @ 39°56’25.45″N 105°15’36.88″W


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