A lot gets said about the fate of American turkeys this time of year, what with the Thanksgiving holiday around the corner and the central role they play in it.
But if biologists have it right, it's actually a brilliant time of year to be a turkey in the wild, where their job just now is to fatten up for the winter, much like many humans do.
This is the season in which wild turkey toms, hens and their yearlings flock together and feast upon any delicacies they can find -- gleaning whatever might be left in the vineyards and scooping up acorns, insects, herbaceous grasses, berries and pretty much anything else.
They're omnivores, and they're opportunistic, so they'll take whatever they can get, partly accounting for their remarkable proliferation around the North Bay and the rest of California in recent decades.
And in Sonoma County and surrounding areas, they have the perfect environment: open grasslands and rolling oak woodlands, said Scott Gardner, a biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game.
"You couldn't create better habitat for them," he said.
Add to that the fact that many people enjoy feeding the turkeys, though some may do so indirectly through feeders intended for songbirds.
On Clover Drive, south of West College Avenue in Santa Rosa, the year-round flock of 10 or so has suddenly swelled to around 17, resident Linda Dubkoff said.
"And they just roam the neighborhood, go on everybody's grass, eat the bugs," Dubkoff said. "A lot of the neighbors do not like them, 'cuz they're kind of pesky. But they dont' bother me at all.
"I think it's nice when you see them all out there," she said. "Everybody stops and looks at them and takes photos."
The large birds have worn out their welcome among some in the region for a variety of reasons, however, not least the wine grapes they pilfer from the acres of vineyards planted throughout.