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Autumn brings forth smells of leaves and cool crisp weather. We now put on jackets and maybe a pair of gloves.

Several of my favorite holidays are celebrated in this beautiful season. Orange pumpkins, yellow squash, and bumpy gourds fill stores and outdoor markets. Thanksgiving cannot help popping into my head.

Mmmm……roasted turkeys, apple sage sausage stuffing, and pumpkin pie are among a few of my favorites.  It is a holiday that celebrates the bountiful harvest before the short growing season of winter. Domestic turkeys that grace our tables are different from the wild turkeys that inhabit our forests.

We may or may not have seen wild turkey grazing slowly and then running when we approach them. What we usually do not see are turkeys running 25 miles per hour or flying short distances up to 60 miles per hour. If we were to venture on a night hike in the forest, we would find them roosting in trees instead of the forest floor. Roosting in trees protects them from coyotes, foxes, and raccoons.

I cannot help but to remember Thanksgiving dinner moments of my sisters and me playing the wishbone game. We would take the wishbone from the turkey breast and try to break it hoping to receive the biggest piece. The biggest piece promised a wish to come true.

A turkey's wishbone shows evidence that 11 million years ago turkeys evolved from T.Rex and velociraptors. If you close your eyes, you can almost see the resemblance.

If you are on a walk and see a group of turkeys and just happen to have an apple, gently roll an apple towards them. Why? They have been seen playing together with apples. Turkeys also sing songs. Silly isn't it?

Turkeys are truly unique animals that can be investigated further. I look forward to you and your children joining us on a turkey hunt.

This month's Hands-on-Habitat class will be held on Friday, November 16th. This fun, free educational class is open to preschool age children and their grownups.

Register now for the November Hands-on-Habitat class. >

Trish Wakefield

Fontenelle Forest Educator

First and foremost, Trish is a wife and a mother of four amazing sons who followed her husband to Omaha for his career.  As a Kansas native, she has always had a passion for life sciences, the natural world and educating children. As a child she actively camped and swam in Kansas State Parks. She studied life sciences at Wichita State University before raising her boys. She also worked as a Special Ed para prior to becoming a YMCA Aquatics Director. As the Aquatic Director, she t ...

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