Barnyard Bickering: Uncle Waldo versus Vernon


We are in the midst of a monster snowstorm. Virtually every school and a lot of businesses in southeastern Michigan were closed today.


My employer ordered everyone to stay home (staff normally reports on snow days or has to make up the day at the end of the school year but this one is a freebie).


Midmorning I opened up the gate to the duck and goose yard and left it open for about an hour to see if they wanted to come out and plow through the snow down to the pond for a quick bath.


About an hour later I looked out and saw that no one had ventured out into the snow, so I went and closed up the yard again.

Uncle Waldo, Abigail, and Amelia

Because Uncle Waldo was confined to the run, the turkeys had to remain cooped up in their house, as Waldo and Vernon are sworn enemies.  I don’t really understand how they recognize each other as being male since they aren’t even the same species, but they do, and their posturing has turned into deadly serious battling.

Peck marks on Uncle Waldo’s beak, courtesy of Vernon
Blu-Kote antiseptic marks where Uncle Waldo ripped out a patch of Vernon’s breast feathers

Uncle Waldo’s aggressiveness starts rising in February and then abates around June when the breeding season concludes. He no longer challenges Phil or me since we worked so diligently on dominance training last year, but he seems determined to kill Vernon or die trying.  Recently I had to run and break up a fierce battle on the back edge of the pond in which Waldo was attempting to break one of Vernon’s wings.  Getting in between a full grown gander and a Tom who are trying to kill each other is a bit intimidating, but I honestly didn’t even hesitate and managed to separate them and clean up their wounds.

For his part, Vernon is highly protective of his henfolk.  He doesn’t attack us, though he did attack a large blue bucket Phil was hauling water in a couple days ago, but he puffs up and displays his fanned-out tail and struts; occasionally he will briefly try to “herd” me by blocking my path, but I never change my course for him, forcing him to yield to me instead.  I’ve learned enough to know that he’s testing the waters to see whether he’s in charge of me or I of him; it’s important not to let him have any doubts that I am the benevolent boss of him.

So, that’s the update on Vernon and Uncle Waldo.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    I am glad to know that Uncle Waldo is still with us. I wish that I had some advice for your two dominant males, but keeping them separate is all I know. I am having troubles with that myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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