While driving along The Sea Ranch roads you may find yourself asking:
My guess is to join the rafter, the technical name for a gathering of turkeys, on the other side of the road.
Experience Wild Turkeys at The Sea Ranch
One of the best reasons for a vacation at The Sea Ranch is the opportunity to experience nature at your doorstep. Our 10-mile community which extends from the ocean strand, bluffs and sand dunes to the headlands, coastal and upper terraces, and finally to the redwood and fir forests is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Wild turkeys-whose scientific name is Meleagris gallopav– are just one of the more than 200 species of birds including, most commonly, pelican, gull, cormorant, California quail, Stellar’s jay, bluebird, black phoebe, sparrow, finch, woodpecker, marsh hawk, meadowlark, white-tailed kite, kestrel, osprey, hummingbird, red-tailed hawk, robin, swallow, raven, black oystercatcher, black turnstone, and turkey vulture sighted at The Sea Ranch.
Where to Find Wild Turkeys in Sea Ranch
You frequently discover rafters of turkeys on the east side of Highway 1 walking through the meadows below the tree line leading up into the hills. However, that being said, they are seen on both sides of the road. For that reason, we caution you to be vigilant as you drive through the area. If it’s not a turkey crossing the road, it could well be a deer, a fox, or other worse yet a skunk!
Keep our Wild Turkeys Wild!
The most important thing to remember is Sea Ranch’s wildlife is just that ~ wild!
History of Wild Turkeys in California
However, you may be surprised to learn that prior to the 19th century there were no wild turkeys in California. Although some 10,000–12,000 years ago, the extinct Meleagris californica, did exist in southern California. It was a smaller species with different morphological characteristics.
Today, California’s wild turkeys now occupy about 18 percent of our state. Wild turkeys entered California’s ecosystem as part of a state-sponsored initiative in 1888 to bring the wild game bird to California. It had varying degrees of success. In fact, they are a highly valued upland game bird.
A Part of The Sea Ranch Ecosystem
But here in The Sea Ranch, we ask that you simply enjoy watching them.
While they will generally walk away as you approach them, do keep in mind that turkeys can become aggressive during the breeding season. They occasionally may even charge, threaten, and act aggressively toward people.
It’s important to note, turkey attacking a human is rare though, partly because wild turkeys live so well with humans. This could be a trait that dates to when they were domesticated by Native Americans.
Wild Turkey as an Invasive Non-Native Species
Some raise concerns that turkeys may interfere with the diet of other native birds, such as the California quail. But a 2007 study showed turkeys were coexisting with quails within the same habitat without significant detrimental effects on either species. Because both species have such diverse feeding preferences, it is unlikely that turkeys will come to monopolize available food sources. Of course, this is assuming there are no extraordinary environmental disasters that could alter their population numbers.
Wild Turkeys in Urban Areas Too!
Watching turkeys in our natural setting is always exciting. But you don’t need to come all the way to Sea Ranch to see a wild turkey. In fact, there are many turkeys found in the East Bay Area regions, including Oakland, and the South Bay Region of Milpitas and San Jose, and even in San Francisco itself!
However, what may be charming in The Sea Ranch’s natural setting is a nuisance in an urban housing development.
My husband, who currently is working and living in the South Bay area discovered turkeys loitering in his home’s doorway! Others rip up carefully designed landscaping redistributing the mulch in the plant beds and pushing it onto the street.
Then adding insult to injury ~ they poop all over the driveway and sidewalks making a mess of everything.
Bizarre Death Danch of Urban Turkeys
Besides redesigning the gardens of urban America these giant birds have been observed circling a dead cat!
“My guess is they are puzzled by the strange behavior of the dead or dying cat,” says Hughes, “[and wanted] to get a better look, without getting too close.” The result, he says, is a circle of turkeys—mostly females—all eyeing the potential predator’s carcass, but none of them wanting to get any closer.
Learn How to Keep Wild Turkey’s Wild
Whether you live in a city or a rural part of California, wild animals are your neighbors. They naturally fear humans and keep their distance – so long as they remain fully wild. To assure that goal make sure you keep them from having any access to human food and garbage. This also includes pet food too!
You can prevent problems by discouraging wild turkeys from becoming too comfortable on your property. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife “Keep Me Wild” website tells you how. From their Turkey KMW Brochure (PDF) they suggest:
- If turkeys begin feeding under hanging bird feeders, remove the feeders until the turkeys leave the area.
- If turkeys are causing problems in your yard, install motion-detecting sprinklers.
- Wild turkeys typically will not enter yards with dogs.
- An open umbrella may help steer a fearless turkey out of your path.
- Depredation permits are required to kill wild turkeys that are causing property damage. To get a depredation permit, contact a Regional CDFW office.
Experience Nature at Your Doorstep with a vacation at Sea Ranch Abalone Bay!
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