Wild turkeys in California, and other interesting wildlife trends

I’ve lived in Northern California about as long as its been a state (57 years). I’d never seen a wild turkey until the last few years. Suddenly they’re all over the place – this weekend I saw 3 different flocks in different locations; just a few yards from the freeway. Has the native habitat of the turkey expanded recently?

Similarly, I never saw a snowy egret for the first 40-odd years of my life. Now, every mud puddle on the side of the road has an egret in it. Which is kinda nice, as they’re pretty spectacularly beautiful.

I also recall as a kid, going on camping trips and hearing that we were theoretically in mountain lion habitat, but that none had been spotted in 50 years or so. Now, hardly a month goes by without a mountain lion sighting in some outlying suburb, moseying down a street or hopping a fence in someone’s back yard. This is not mysterious, however, as their numbers have rebounded dramatically due to prohibitions on hunting.

Huh? California was admitted in 1850. Northern California is a part of the state of California, not a separate state.

Friday afternoon I had a turkey fly out in front of my car for the first time ever. Walking/running in front of cars is par for the course, but I’d never seen one try to fly across a road before…he oughtn’t of bothered - even with a running start to nearly the center line he barely made it.

I live in Oregon and the cougar (mountain lion) population has also boomed here. It wasn’t a complete hunting prohibition that caused this but rather a prohibition on hunting with dogs.

Cougar hunting is now open the entire year and still the state hires professional hunters to reduce the population.


i don’t know your specifics.

state natural resources agency may reintroduce wildlife from one part of the state to another. they may also get some from other states. i don’t think that they are bringing in species that haven’t lived there, but it may have dropped in population a century (or half of one) ago due to human actions and never recovered.

turkey don’t move out of the way any sooner than needed. slow down and keep driving, don’t stop because they will make you wait as long as they want.

We are definitely seeing more wild turkeys around here than when I moved in 10 years ago–also hawks and eagles. I live in actual Northern CA, north of Sacramento.

I see the wry humor was lost due to my inelegant phrasing. Parsed correctly, the statement would be “I have lived in Northern California for 57 years, virtually as long as California has been a state.”

I live and work within the city limits of Sacramento, and I see ‘wild’ turkeys a couple times a month near my office. I work at what was once Mather Air Force Base, so I imagine there’s lots of wildlife that used to roam about the base.

More interesting is the American River Parkway, which runs along the American River (surprise!) right through the heart of the city, and is home to all kinds of wildlife, from otters and beavers to deer, coyote, and mountain lions.

I used to see them occasionally but infrequently in more rural Hayward. I recently walked past one not 8 feet away in suburban El Cerrito/Richmond.

About 20 years ago, my future husband and I were at a local ( Middle TN ) park, and saw what we thought to be a sea gull. My hubby called the local wild life office and they pretty much told him we were mistaken. Five years later, you couldn’t go shopping, eat out, or anything without reenacting a scene from The Birds. They were drawn by all the fast food dumpsters in the shopping areas.

Interesting. I wonder how that happens? How does the word get out to the nearest shoreline, that there’s a dumpster bonanza in Tennessee?

We must be neighbors - I live in that area as well and it’s not at all unusual to see them come down from the hills, they forage for food in everybody’s yard. The males like to stand in the road and stare down cars - nobody wants to run them over so traffic crawls until Mr. Turkey decides to get out of the way. We also get a lot of deer.

I live in Chicago and I have a barn owl that lives in the alley. He’s been there for the last three or four years. Or maybe it’s a different owl, but I only ever see one. You actually can’t see him easily, you can hear him “hoot” though and then you have to look carefully

I often wonder how he got there. I can see him staying as Chicago is full of mice and rats and squirrels etc, so he’d have lots of food.

A pack of wild turkeys lives behind and near a now closed movie theater in Cleveland Circle in Boston. They are apparently nasty sumbitches, attacking students every now and then.

There are pelicans in Calgary. They like to surf the weir and wait for the fish to come to them.

Some giant owl flew overhead when I was riding to work one morning. Each flap of its wings made a whoosh/whoop sound that conveyed a huge sense of power. It was an amazing experience on a residential street just a few kms from downtown.

We’ve got the Eurasian Doves, which are known for cooing 10 solid hours. I once joked that they had an online dating service, because they sat on the wires and advertised for mates.

They’re good at it to. In 2006 I saw three of them. In 2009 I went around the block and saw 90.

Here in central Illinois we have bald eagles, and huge-ass turkey vultures, as well as regular turkeys. But the real kicker lately has been some sort of panther or dark phased mountain lion has been seen here, both by eyewitnesses and on trail cameras, and healthy, full grown horses have been killed and dismembered. Keep your yappy dogs inside.

Earlier this winter I saw an owl flying down the alleyway. I don’t live that far from Fish Creek, deer aren’t that uncommon to see wandering the neighbourhood but I’ve never seen/heard an owl in the city before beyond the ones at the zoo.

Last fall we saw a pheasant on one of our walks down there too! Until then I’d never seen one except for the stuffed one my Dad did as a teen.

You’re not in Colusa or that area are you?

Suburban, what is Mather used for nowadays? I went to High School in Folsom (class of '79) and a third of the kids were from Mather.

Mountain lions are supposed to be coming back in WV. I have a couple of friends who haven’t seen them but have photographed paw prints and found fur on thorns and the like. I was also surprised to hear there’s a healthy population of Bald Eagles in the New River Gorge area.