Turkey trot

In retrospect, I wish I’d had time to ask ol’ Tom why the turkeys crossed the road. Instead, I was so busy fumbling in my purse to find my digicam after having pulled to the side of Route 12 in Fitzwilliam, NH this morning to ask any questions of the half-dozen wild turkeys–a tom and a handful of hens–that congregated on one side of the road before stopping traffic to cross. It’s not uncommon to see turkeys alongside rural roads in New Hampshire: I think they like to scratch and swallow the gravel they find there, as it provides fine grit for their gizzards. Whereas Fred First only recently photographed his first turkey in the Really Rural environs of Floyd, Virginia, here in the Thickly Settled northeast, turkeys often make nuisances of themselves by hanging around semi-rural areas, woodsy suburbs, and the human homes nestled therein.


When I lived in Cambridge, MA and received emailed sightings from other Boston-area birders, there was one spring when a flock of turkeys occasionally roosted in the Mount Auburn Hospital parking lot, perturbing patients, visitors, and hospital staff alike by leaving big muddy footprints–and other avian “reminders”–atop the vehicles they sometimes considered perches. Around that same time, I remember a Boston-area TV station doing a feature story on the turkeys that walked the posh streets of Wellesley, MA…and just last month, a friend who lives in Newton, MA spotted and photographed a lone male turkey on the sidewalk in front of his house. According to one Boston blogger, the turkeys in Boston aren’t just surviving, they’re in the midst of an active breeding season, which might explain why New Hampshire Tom was all puffed and preened before stepping into oncoming traffic to follow his harem of hens.

I’d be willing to bet that there are more wild turkeys in the forests of either New Hampshire or Virginia than there are in the leafy green suburbs of Boston…but where there are more people, there is a greater likelihood of turkeys being seen. The turkeys that frequent Floyd, VA are, I assume, a pretty shy bunch…and the turkeys in Fitzwilliam, NH will walk into traffic when they want to move from Point A to Point B, but there’s probably not much reason for them to hang around people’s yards when there’s good eatin’ in the springtime woods. The turkeys of greater Boston, I assume, have learned to hide in the small, secluded greenways that help delineate suburban neighborhoods…and in the process, the turkeys of greater Boston have become more accustomed to human neighbors.

This isn’t to say that the wild turkeys of Fitzwilliam, NH are a bunch of bumpkins. To the contrary, they seem to have a savvy sense of pop culture as they inadvertently aped the Beatles’ famed Abbey Road album cover.

To get to the other side

If Paul was the walrus, which of the Fab Four do you think was the turkey?