Several wild turkey hens and their poults are currently making their home within the Navajo State Park boundaries. The hens and their broods can be seen foraging for everything from acorns and berries to insects and small reptiles. There are five subspecies of wild turkeys through the United States, and in southwest Colorado, we have the Merriam’s turkey, named in honor of C. Hart Merriam, the first Chief of U.S. Biological Survey.
Wild turkey hens lay a clutch of 10-12 eggs during a two-week period, usually laying one egg per day. She will incubate her eggs for approximately 28 days, turning the eggs about once an hour. Actual hatching begins with the poult rotating within the shell and making a piping sound, which the hen responds to by making soft clucks. This communication and imprinting between the hen and her poults while they are still in the egg is critical to their survival. Shortly after they hatch, the chicks can respond to their mother’s calls.
The wild turkey was Benjamin Franklin’s choice for the American National Emblem. It lost to the bald eagle by one ballot in a congressional vote. As the Fourth of July approaches, a day of patriotic celebration and family events throughout the country, one might take a moment to remember Benjamin Franklin’s argument for the wild turkey … “the turkey is in comparison (to the bald eagle), a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America … a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on.”
There is no grenadier of British guards at Navajo State Park, but there will be patriotic celebrations and family events during the Fourth of July weekend. The park amphitheater will be the setting for another one of Charles Martinez’s very special Native American Flute concerts on Saturday, July 3, at 8 p.m. On Sunday, David Snyder and Sharman Alto will again treat park visitors to their eclectic blend of music and songs at the amphitheater, also at 8 p.m. The park will host the popular Kids Krafts programs during the holiday weekend on Saturday and Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at the visitor center. Materials will be provided to make Fourth of July decorations.
A Colorado State Parks pass is required on all vehicles entering the park, but once inside the park, all programs and events are free. For more information, call 883-2208.