Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Victor and Hugo: Turkeys at Poplar Spring

This month all of the pictures I post will be in black and white; I’m participating in Black and White November. It has nothing to do with anything other than photography, but for those interested, it is an idea originating with, and there is an associated flickr group. So if you’re surprised to suddenly see only b&w pics on this blog, there you go, that’s why.

Last weekend at the sanctuary I was captivated by the turkeys. The arrival of the three new turkeys has changed the dynamic in mostly interesting ways. The three new arrivals are more active, spend more time outside – they are younger, and that might be one reason. Since they are outside more, it seems that Victor and Gertrude are outside more often as well. Opal prefers to stay inside, basking in the sunshine she can find in the barn.

Victor is still the head honcho of the turkey tribe, but Hugo and the two females he came with tend to stick together. I was thrilled when I saw one of them part way up in a tree on Saturday. It was exciting to me to see something like that, it was such a wonderful bird thing for her to do. Dave says that they sometimes go higher up in one of the other trees. I’d love to see it.

It highlights some major differences between the new arrivals and the turkeys like Victor and Opal. The new arrivals, much like Gertrude, are much smaller, much more mobile and agile. They were perhaps bred for entertainment or for a certain look as opposed to immense size. Opal and Victor, on the other hand, have the mangled genetics that came from the human desire to have them grow as large as possible as quickly as possible. Their bodies are too large. Opal is further hindered by the fact that her toes were partially amputated.

So as Gertrude, Hugo, Giselle, and the not-yet-named third new arrival hop nimbly onto perches, and trot through the yard, or climb a tree, Victor and Opal limp ungainfully around.

It breaks my heart to see.

And yet….and yet, Victor doesn’t want my pity or my heartbreak. He struts, chest puffed out, feathers on constant display, his snood long and colorfully ostentatious. He circles around us, making sure he is always noticed. “Here I am!” his limping strut seems to say, his trills and puffing of air announcing his presence.

I was videoing the new three on Saturday when I heard the tell-tale trill followed by “poof!…thump…thump….poof!…thump…thump” to my left and slightly behind me. I stayed where I was, and sure enough Victor came around me, strutting, and making sure that we are all aware that no matter how pretty and fascinating the newcomers are, it is Victor who we should all be taking note of.

Victor makes me smile. It is heartbreaking what has been done to his body and the bodies of his unlucky brothers and sisters who are sent to slaughter at a few months of age, but Victor himself? He is the victory, the rescued one, the safe one, the proud one.


8 responses to “Victor and Hugo: Turkeys at Poplar Spring

  1. nothoney November 4, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    I love how busy they all seem to be whenever we’re down there. I didn’t know they got up in the trees! I swear, I learn more about all the critters from your blog than whenever I’m out there doing chores.


  2. Kelvin Kao November 5, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Hm, are they named after Victor Hugo the author?

  3. b November 5, 2009 at 3:23 am

    Victor!!! He and the others are on the calendar this month. I look at them every day and am SO pleased. Victor totally stole my heart when we visited and I talk about him a lot. The video absolutely made my morning. I love to watch him strut πŸ˜€

  4. Deb November 5, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    @nothoney – i was getting a chuckle out of that when I watched the video. There’s always someone doing something in the background! Did you notice the rooster chasing the hen by the infirmary? lol. I didn’t know they got into trees until Saturday when I saw it! I learn something every week!

    @Kelvin – I was wondering the same thing when I was writing the post! The connection of the names didn’t strike me until then. I’m going to have to ask. One of their weekday staff named him, and Dave didn’t know why. I’ll find out though!

    @b – Aw, I’m glad that you’re another Victor fan! He’s so funny. I always want to give him a big hug, but of course he’d have none of that!

  5. nothoney November 7, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Ha! I just watched it again to look at the background action. That was quite the quick chase.

    I hope to be back sometime in December. It’s going to be such a hard holiday season …


  6. Deb November 7, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    @nothoney – it will be good to have you back (even if on sundays!) but sad too, because of the reason you’ll be able to be back. The holiday season will suck, no doubt about that, but the first few months would suck regardless of what time of year. It’s just worse around the holidays because everyone tries to require that you be happy. The people who know you well will know better though. Maybe it would help to start writing a memory book? Though it might take a while before you could handle that. Everyone is different. Wish they could live forever, no doubt about that.

  7. maya | springtree road November 7, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    love them! they’re beautiful – and i’m so glad they won’t be on someone’s table this month. πŸ™‚

  8. Deb November 7, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    I love them too! They’re such characters. I’m glad they won’t be on someone’s table too! πŸ™‚

    And Victor, he was found walking down the road in a DC suburb on Thanksgiving Day a few years ago. I think he had a really close call!

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