house sparrow, wild turkeys, reindeer moss

11.3.21 ~ house sparrow in the river birch tree
outside my kitchen window

Now that some leaves have fallen off our tree we can see the little birds better from the kitchen window. We discovered a little nest deep in the branches. We are grateful to the tree for shading us from the hot sun all summer, and now with the leaves gone it will let some sunlight in to warm us up.


On Friday we decided to take a walk in the woods at a town park we’ve driven past many times, not realizing it wasn’t just a dog park, which is only a small part of the huge property. But first, as we were driving by the post office we had a close encounter with Thelma & Louise, a pair of male wild turkeys.

They are local celebrities and even have their own Facebook page, where humans post pictures of their sightings. A biologist weighed in and said they were two males, but the names Thelma & Louise remain stuck to them. They hang out in downtown Groton and regularly stop traffic as they stroll across the streets.

But nobody seems to get irritated with them as they wait patiently for the turkeys to get out of harm’s way.

We’ve crossed paths with them many times but this was the first time there was a place we could pull over and get a few pictures. I posted these on Facebook. πŸ™‚


On to Copp Family Park. It was gorgeous! And we had a nice long walk because the uneven terrain on the trails was good for Tim’s back and hip. We even had to cross a stream using stepping stones. It felt so good to be deep in the woods again. No mosquitoes! In fact, we were wearing our winter coats because it was only 37Β°F (3Β°C) when we left the house.

The picture below is a failed attempt to capture a woodpecker, but I kind of like the pleasing composition.

I found a tree hosting lots of reindeer moss, at least I’m pretty sure that’s what this lichen is called…

I was holding a small clump of reindeer moss in one hand, a little piece of that branching, pale green-grey lichen that can survive just about anything the world throws at it. It is patience made manifest. Keep reindeer moss in the dark, freeze it, dry it to a crisp, it won’t die. It goes dormant and waits for things to improve. Impressive stuff.
~ Helen Macdonald
(H is for Hawk)

I even spotted some on the ground farther along the trail.

orbs and orange leaves
the largest glacial erratic we encountered
the other side of the glacial erratic
spiral growth?

After we got back to the car we decided to go for a leaf peeping drive and wound up at the cider mill and a cemetery. Will share those pictures in the next post!

27 thoughts on “house sparrow, wild turkeys, reindeer moss”

    1. They’re so busy eating seeds and insects in the grass the only time they look up is when they cross a street!

  1. Love your handsome celebrities, Thelma and Louise! 😁 I’ve read many articles about wild animals that walk and live within a town, wild turkeys is a first! hehe Sweet House Sparrow and wonderful autumn colors! I never knew that lichen was called reindeer lichen, but it makes sense as I studied your photos. And now I know what it’s called, thank you Barbara! 😊

    1. You’re welcome and thank you, Donna! 😊 We have flocks of wild turkeys in the open spaces and more rural parts of town, but why these two have decided to live downtown, wandering around between the business and retail strip malls and parking lots, remains a mystery. Nothing seems to bother them. When I turned to put my camera away one of them came right up to the open car window and startled me when I looked up. 😊

  2. I’d never heard of reindeer moss before — what an interesting find. And I love your shot of the orbs and orange leaves. This pair of turkeys is fascinating, too. They remind me of the geese we have here — families of them merrily parade across city streets, stopping traffic.

    1. Thank you, Debbie! I was surprised and dazzled when I looked at the orbs and orange leaves shot on my laptop after getting home. πŸ™‚ I had read about reindeer moss in novels and had seen it before in our woods but never made the connection until I did some research. The wild turkeys do indeed behave a lot like geese!

    1. Thank you for the tip, Leelah! I did and loved all the pictures. I bet you have a lot more reinlav in Norway than we have here. πŸ™‚

  3. The orbs and orange tree photo is magnificent! I love that one especially. How many years have you guys had wild turkeys in your area? We haven’t had them in the northern UP for too long, maybe 15 years? Before that they were in the southern UP. When we first moved up here 40-some years ago there weren’t any at all.

    1. Thank you, Kathy! The orbs and orange leaves was my favorite photo of the day. πŸ™‚

      So I did some research on the CT-DEEP website about the wild turkeys. They were abundant when the first European settlers arrived. Because of forest clearing and a few severe winters they disappeared by the early 1800s. Unsuccessful attempts were made to reintroduce them from the 1950s to 1970s. A different method was then tried and from 1975 to 1992, 356 wild turkeys were released at 18 sites throughout the state and now they are found in all 169 CT towns. Thanks for your question!

      Tim and I encountered a flock in an abandoned field near our condo complex in 2016. Pictures here: https://www.ingebrita.net/2016/09/wild-turkeys/

    1. It was fun having a chance to see them up close, but I think they need more appropriate names. πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚

      1. I was reading the recent nwf.org newsletter about turkeys coming to bird feeders and they cautioned that human-acclimated males during breeding season can become aggressive. We’ll see what these guys do next spring, let’s hope they behave themselves! πŸ™‚

        1. As far as I know nobody is feeding these guys but it’s good to be aware of the potential for aggression. It will be interesting to see what happens next spring! Thanks for the warning, Eliza. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Ally! And even though the common name is reindeer moss it is actually a lichen. Also, “tree reindeer lichen” is slightly different than the kind that covers the ground…

  4. You and Tim have been taking such beautiful walks, and all of your photos are lovely. I particularly love the orbs and orange leaves image. How funny about the turkeys.

    1. Thank you, Robin! The orbs and orange leaves was my favorite, too. The turkeys make me wonder what prompted the buddies to leave the flock and strike out on their own.

  5. What a wonderful Fall walk and another glimpse at the beautiful leaf colors. We have a couple of wild turkeys that routinely park themselves at a busy intersection and then decide to meander across the street slowly at inopportune times. I see their pictures in the Facebook forum for the local area and I wonder why no one gave ours their own Facebook page – how clever. I go that way when I head out to the larger parks but have never seen them “in person” but I’ve seen photos of police getting out there and taking his baton to delicately prod those turkeys across the street. They are pretty obstinate. I’ve never seen reindeer moss so that was something new for me. We are expecting a little snow tomorrow, mostly on the grass, but it could be 1-2 inches. Too early!

    1. Yes, it’s that meandering across the street so slowly at inopportune times that has me puzzled. You’d think they would have been hit by a car by now. The human reaction is confusing, too. When most people get held up in traffic they get angry and start blowing their horns and cursing. But if it’s the turkeys everyone is so patient and accommodating. I don’t know if the turkeys are obstinate or completely oblivious! It’s going to be interesting to see what they do in the spring during breeding season. The reindeer moss looks so delicate I was surprised to learn how hardy it is. Definitely too early for snow, although the first snow usually feels magical. Sometimes it even snows on Thanksgiving. Hope you can enjoy yours if it happens!

      1. We have had unfortunate vehicle versus Canada Geese encounters where drivers were impatient and literally mowed them over. That made me sick to hear the story and there was a reward, but the driver was never caught. I’m surprised with our turkeys too – they are a novelty. I never saw those wild turkeys and I go by that intersection, but on September 11th I took a walk in a wooded area and saw two wild turkeys. I was ecstatic to see them. I went as far as I could to the banks of the Rouge River to take pictures. They were evading me and went into the bushes eventually. In getting the pictures, the mosquitoes were thick and I had long sleeves and pants on but those mosquitoes got me on my neck, face and hands while I was in that wooded area. So, my two turkeys are going to be a surprise “mystery bird” for Wordless Wednesday the day before Thanksgiving. I found a cute Jacquie Lawson card as well. Turkeys were not on my birdie bucket list either. πŸ™‚

        1. It’s so much better seeing the wild turkeys in a natural area. πŸ™‚ Those darn mosquitoes, my goodness, the things we endure to get a photograph! Looking forward to seeing your turkeys the day before Thanksgiving! πŸ¦ƒπŸ¦ƒ

          1. Yes, it is and what a surprise when we looked at each other. I have some harvest decor pics to use for Thanksgiving. People around here decorate a lot for harvest and Halloween.

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