Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Five:
Case File No. 32-240
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Where We Left Off:
Gus went missing and caused quite a bit of alarm at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency.
I hope your holiday season is going well. There has been a lot of posts in my social circles about illness of humans and animals. Find peace where you can. Even Gus was stressed as the Butler and I packed him into his backpack and put him in the car. It was a short trip to the pet store, but Gus gets car sick. He’s always stressed which is why I don’t feed him before a trip. He and Oliver are due for their annual exams and shots which is worse for the humans than the cats, but they would have you believe otherwise. At least, the pet store visit with Gus went well. He got to see Santa again. He growled at first, but then something magical happened. Santa made a chirping noise like a songbird and Gus immediately relaxed and settled into him.
Our Santa visit has nothing to do with this case file other than it being a seasonal vignette. Such was the imagery back in November when Gus and I found wild turkey feathers up the hill (one of them could be a vulture feather but it is the same size). We’ve been fortunate to spot the turkeys usually once a year. Finding their feathers is a rewarding experience. Keep in mind that contact with birds, their feces and feathers, or mites can lead to a flu-like illness brought on by bacteria, Chlamydophila psittaci, leading to psittacosis. Wild turkeys are not protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act so it’s legal to have their feathers.
The turkeys are more likely to appear away from our house and closer to the small house up the private drive. It’s a bit quieter up there and there are plenty of wild acres for the critters. Since we had found evidence of them up there, we felt obligated to try and figure out if there was any activity that required an investigation.
These turkeys aren’t going to end up in the grocery store, but there is still a chance that hunters who like game meat could get them. Spotting evidence of turkeys in November is a good sign because that means they likely survived the October hunting season and are wandering around the hills of New Jersey. The October hunt allows for either sex to be killed. The spring hunting season is more complicated. There are more dates and the state only allows males (toms) to be hunted which someone is supposed to be able to tell from far away. We can safely assume that since these feathers weren’t here in October, our local gobbler friends have another winter to live.
The last suspicious thing we discovered in that area was the fresh corpse of a Jersey devil-deer with an exploded anus. Hopefully none of the turkeys met such an end. We weren’t panicking since we find feathers, especially from blue jays, all the time. Birds shed their feathers naturally or during tussles with each other. Turkey feathers are a special gift from nature. They were typically used as writing quills. I decided to give that a try.
I used scissors and a worn box-cutting blade to cut the end of one of the feathers at an angle. I used a small brush to clean the hollow part. There was a flakey outer layer that I wasn’t trying to remove, but it unpeeled from the rest of the quill as I tried to slice the end to look like a calligraphy pen. I even tried using a nail file to smooth the rough edges, but that made it worse. I debated whether or not to try a Dremel bit, but haven’t done that yet. I’m worried it might make it even worse. I think the blade I used was too dull. Here’s a video of someone who made a tutorial and he absolutely looks like the kind of person who would know how to make tools from nature:
This also presented as an opportunity to test out the black walnut ink made from our own black walnuts. The ink isn’t as dark as I expected from looking at the deep, rich color through the bottle. I guess this is because it’s thin. It could maybe cook a bit more and thicken or have something added to it to thicken. With a bit of practice and a fresh blade, I could probably improve my cutting skills.
The last time we saw the neighborhood turkeys was May. We saw three of them and are guessing they were female birds, but I have no confidence in bird sex determination unless they’re obvious like cardinals. Hopefully all three are living a great life. They’ve managed to escape the hunters for another season.
Case Status: Closed