A couple of years ago we had a flock of turkeys appear in our back yard on Christmas Day. It was awesome! For about a week. The flock took up residence in the woods in back of the house through the winter and by February they had broken our bird feeding tray, educated us on the finer points of poultry poop, and scared off all but the most aggressive squirrels (those little red ones). By the time they left us in March even the cats were sick of them.
All in all though turkeys are interesting creatures with some great history. For example, contrary to popular belief, Ben Franklin never actually proposed that the turkey be considered for National bird. Instead, what he said was that the bird on the National Seal looked like a turkey and that he was “not displeased” about that because the Bald Eagle was, “…a bird of bad moral character”, whatever that means for a bird. Today 45 Million turkeys are eaten over Thanksgiving, which I suppose makes it a good thing that we chose the Eagle because I’m not really sure how I’d feel about being a country that ceremoniously eats its national bird every November.
Wild turkeys, which you might see here in New England this time of year, travel in flocks and can fly for short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. They roost in trees at night to stay safe from predators. They can be very hard to catch because not only do they see in color and sense movement from over 100 feet away but they have great hearing. If you happen to see a turkey while driving, slow down or even pull over if you can safely, there will often be more close by in the treeline. Look for a large feather sticking out of the chest of the turkey, it’s called a beard and only the males have it. The males are the ones that gobble, too. They also have brighter, more iridescent feathers and their heads can change color. Really! When they want to fight their head turns bright red and when they are excited it turns blue. In fact a good rule of thumb is pretty much that if the turkey looks cool it’s a guy.
As cool as they can be though they are destructive in large numbers, kind of like zombies. Don’t feed them or encourage them to hang out in your back yard. Even if the photos of cats going crazy over them are pretty funny it’s not worth it, trust me.