From the other room, I hear a good tone in Don's voice as he alerts me, "Turkeys!" "How many?", I ask. "Nine", Don answers. I breathe a little easier.Â For now.Â Seems I've turned into a mother hen lately,Â counting beaks whenever the brood appears out the window. There are a lot of obstacles out there to keep little turkeys from getting big, and if one gets attached to them, a certain amount of anguish seems inevitable. At this point, I guess you could say I'm attached. When we first saw this clutch of turkey poults, eleven fluff balls with legs scurried after their mother. Before long there were nine, growing fast and learning to fly. They preened under her protection and dozed at her feet. Then there was one awful day when seven frightened jakes and jennies appeared without the hen. Since then, the missing two have grouped back up with the others, but sadly, the hen has been gone for a couple of weeks and she is almost certainly dead. We wondered what chance the little ones would have to survive without their watchful mother. Young turkeys are on the menu of many predators in this area.Â At this stage of growth, they could be taken by an owl or hawk,Â and they are often targets for eagles, bobcats and coyotes.Â They are not always aware of what lurks in the shadows.Â The little ones have tried to join up with two hens that frequent the area,Â and though we see them together occasionally,Â they are often running from the hens,Â who make it clear that they don't want the young birds competing for their food. So, when they're not on their own, the jakes and jennies hang out with the crows and deer. It's a pretty good symbiotic relationship; the deer, with their keen sense of smell, pick up warnings that the turkeys wouldn't notice, and the turkeys, with their sharp eyes, warn the deer of danger. They don't know, of course, about their adoptive mother hen watching from behind the windows.