Prior to European arrival to North Americam wild Turkey was quite common in Eastern North America. As settlement caused habitat loss, combined with hunting of the birds, wild Turkey became extinct in Southern Ontario by the early 1900s.
In 1984, a reintroduction program started in Ontario. By 1987, a sustainable population was established. By the year 2000, it was estimated that the population in Ontario is 24,000 wild turkeys.
I first saw a wild turkey, in the wild, several years ago, in a park on the Niagara escarpment, close to Owen Sound, overlooking Georgian Bay. This was on April 19, 2003, and ice floes were still in the water. I took a few pictures, but the bird was too far away for a good shot.
Fast forward to December 2007, and much closer to home. While driving Salma back from school, on the way to pickup her sisters, I drove via Benjamin Road, through a shortcut via Bisch road, en route to Erbsville. I was stunned to see a flock of 5 to 7 turkeys right on the road. I stopped the car and took out my mobile phone to take a picture, but the birds were spooked, and fled for cover under the trees.
The next day, I tried to do the same, and drove through the same area. I could not see any birds, but there were lots of foot prints on the snow.
According to the annual Christmas bird count, Waterloo Region has 175 turkeys living, mainly in South Kitchener. This is significantly up from just 54 birds in 2004.
No wonder I was lucky to see some ...