Something to Strut About: Successful Colorado Wild Turkey Release
Rocky Mountain Wildlife Alliance is an all-volunteer-run organization that operates out of Sedalia, Colorado. The non-profit wildlife rehabilitation center takes in hundreds of injured and orphaned animals from across the state, with the goal of releasing them back into the wild once they are ready and or, fully healed.
A recent success story for RMWA involved an orphaned turkey that was brought to the center last summer.
The female turkey came into RMWA's care on July 18, 2022. The 3-day-old hatchling was found by a resident in Parker, who had mistaken it for a chicken egg on their property. Upon discovering that it was actually a turkey chick, the Good Samaritan transported her to the facility in Douglas County for a better chance of survival.
While at the center, the turkey was given the chance to grow up in a safe environment. RMWA staff helped raise the bird, also known as patient 22-7, from just a poult all the way to an adult. The decision was made to overwinter the turkey at the facility in order to ensure she'd be prepared for the wild.
Along the way, she was given more opportunities to increase her survival skills that would be needed in her natural habitat. This included things like getting to experience the weather in an outdoor enclosure and being given a foraging pool full of dirt and sticks that she could peck through to find food.
During the early spring, the turkey began laying eggs on a regular basis. Fun fact: after her eggs were collected, they were scrambled and used to feed other patients at the center.
A little less than a year after her arrival, the turkey was healthy, strong, and finally ready to be released back into the wild. After 321 days spent at the center, she was transported to Cherokee Ranch in Sedalia, where active turkey flocks are regularly seen hanging around.
As the team of RMWA rescuers drove around on-site, they quickly located another turkey taking a stroll on the scenic grounds. The two birds could be heard calling to each other, so it seemed like the perfect chance to set her free. A volunteer who had taken the turkey in as a chick had the full-circle moment of opening the kennel door and letting the bird back into the wild.
While a bit stunned at first, the once-orphaned turkey soon made its way up the hill, stopping to snack on grass and bushes on the way. Not long after, she was out of sight, on to live her life as a happy, wild turkey among other feathered friends.