Field Journal

Mice Are Back

It’s like I thought if I killed two or three … or eight they'd get the message. But NOOO. They know “No cat,” and have ventured in again - into the underspace where they make nightly forays onto the counters and into the cabinets. They’re safe from Mr. Coyote and his cousins who thrive, polishing off the last roaming cats, hens and pheasant in the neighborhood.

Last night I heard the snap. But the sound of flopping went on too long and in the morning I saw the poor thing firmly snapped in half and very much alive. And angry. About the only thing worse than taking a dead mouse out of a trap is taking a mad mouse out of a trap. Maimed mad mouse.

I suspect them of some form of coordinated vengeance now. 



Birders at Coronado Historic Site

…which would more accurately be called a prehistoric site are encouraged to look for a variety of species including wild turkeys that inhabit the bosque.

New Mexico Game and Fish just announced they’re proposing to delist the rarest turkey species existing in the state today - Gould’s wild turkey. (Article in Current Arghh) Because. Reasons.

Also read about how the trump cultist down there has introduced legislation to “protect” the oil and gas industry from species conservation.

Most of the photos of turkeys in New Mexico online are people posing with dead ones.

Game and Fish has more on protecting, and not, Gould's and other turkey types here.



Ancient Pet Turkeys


My idea of what ancient pueblo villages looked like did not include so many birds.

The excellent lecture series by Archaeology Southwest on Avian Archaeology is ongoing and past talks are up on their YouTube channel. The next on Turkey feather blankets will include blanket maker Mary Weahkee who replicates them using ancient techniques. The research Cyler Conrad presented is here. Upcoming topics include birds of Chaco Canyon, turkey burials, depiction on pottery and macaw and parrot keeping.

(Image from Archaeology Southwest)

The widespread evidence of domestic turkey management by ancient people indicates that they were managed in different ways and kept for different purposes. They were tethered, penned, housed in converted room blocks, and allowed to free range. Every part of them was used - eggs, feathers, bones. Maybe they provided pest control.  Maybe they provided companionship.

Judging affection for animals from the archaeological record is impossible, right?  But it's clear turkeys were valued very highly and there seems to be little evidence that they were raised as a primary food source. They were more valuable, for whatever reasons, alive.

There's a broken wing splint artifact in a display case at the Coronado Historic Site. I saw it years ago and think about it frequently. It's not the only example that's been found. The turkey's wing was broken, reset and healed. You don't do that to just any old bird you want to eat and make flutes out of.    




Heat and smoke in varying parts. A choice of cold fresh or heat and smoke. (I cough.) Shoving large logs into the small stove. Dog looks dubious. He’s seen this before - failed attempts and smoldering logs carried, cussing, outside. The cat is amused. She sneezes.

I wonder about this smoke and how I’m compromising my health as a slow steady delicious warmth builds to balmy tropical before mid morning.  My goosebumps and bone aches subside. I open the front door to breathe.