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Talking turkey and evergreens that like all this rain


Our whole neighborhood was wild about our wild turkeys last summer (though I did catch the baby ones eating my blueberries once.) There were two females and a dozen babies. This year—nothing. Is this normal?

A: Wild turkey flocks typically range 2 to 20 square miles. Your flock may have simply moved on. Chicks are very vulnerable to weather, though, and the cold, rainy summers of the last two years may have taken a toll. If you are eager to see more turkeys, keep their habitat in mind.

Chicks feed on protein-rich insects, until they mature into poults and transition into an adult diet of insects, seeds, slugs, fruits, leaves, roots and mast, such as acorns. (Oaks are top of the list for sustaining insects to feed birds and other wildlife, too.) Actually, wild turkeys eat just about anything that fits down their throats.

They favor having a wooded area nearby. Wild turkeys have extraordinary eyesight — like 8X binoculars with super peripheral and color vision — and are good fliers. They have a reputation for smarts, which inspired Ben Franklin to promote them as our national bird. For more, go online to the MD Dept. of Natural Resources “Wildlife Management: Eastern Wild Turkeys.”

Q: We planted three big Norway spruces and a big Nelly Stevens holly, and this year they all died from the heavy rains. What evergreen trees can we replace them with in the same spot, recognizing the rainfall problem?

A: American holly, sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) which is the one with the big shiny leaves and white flowers, and Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) all enjoy wet soils.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.


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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.