2/2 so I was wondering if large birds just hate human transportation or something haha. Thanks for your post, very interesting.
(In reference to a comment I made about kayaks being incredibly rude in Swan Culture)
I’ve been looking at my inbox like “I am not some kind of ECCENTRIC BIRD WHISPERER,” but I actually know the answer to this one, and it’s hilarious.
Large birds don’t have a particular hateboner for human transportation, but wild turkeys have two unique properties that make them behave ridiculously when they collide with human populations. For those who aren’t familiar with them, wild turkeys are large, boisterous birds that tend to interact with humans most frequently around the autumn which is convenient for Thanksgiving and mating season in early spring. Most of the time, they live peaceable lives in the woods, but around November they run around in flocks bothering innocent citizens and picking fights with vending machines, and then they usually go away again.
The toms, or dominant males, can stand up to 4 feet tall and weigh up to 24 pounds. They’re the ones that do the fancy displays:
The First Unique Turkey Property: Now, wild turkeys are a little bit like betta fish, in that they perceive any shiny/reflective surface that shows them a reflection as actually containing Another Turkey, and they react accordingly. When they react to the Other Turkey – usually by posturing aggressively and flaring their fins feathers majestically – the Other Turkey ESCALATES THE SITUATION by posturing as well. At some point the real turkey loses its temper and attacks, pecking and scratching and trying to take the fucker apart, only to find that the Other Turkey has protected itself with some kind of force field.
So to a wild turkey that has encountered enough autumnal car-related psychic battles, the completely logical conclusion to take away from them is that cars contain demonic spirits that must be subdued. Other examples of things that wild turkeys are compelled to vanquish include… well, other reflective things.
To address this, cover reflective things (you can rub soap on your car to make it less reflective) and frighten off the turkey if it’s keeping you from leaving your car.
The Second Unique Turkey Property: This is a little bit embarrassing for all concerned, but you have to think about it like a turkey would. You see, humans are oddly compelling creatures to a hormonal turkey. We have bare faces with interestingly positioned lumps of flesh, we gobble our speech in a way that almost sounds like Turkey, we strut about on two feet showing off our long sexy legs, we strut about in family groups, we often have access to really good food, our clothing is big and bright and colorful. Turkey faces change color with their mood; human faces are all kinds of fascinating colors, plus additional fantastic decorations. To wild turkeys, humans are a type of turkey, and further: many humans are either Intimidating Sexual Threats, or Exciting Sexual Beings.
Now, I am very sorry about this, but not only can wild turkeys be kind of reverse furries, they also have unexpected ideas about gender and sexuality. So to some female turkeys, “male” humans are excitingly sexy and they will follow one around for embarrassingly long periods of time, cooing attractively – meanwhile, the tom turkey and the subordinate males will be OUTRAGED by the COMPETITION presented by the interloper, and will attempt to subdue “him.” And “female” humans are likewise at risk of being passionately seduced by the dominant toms, or quietly propositioned by subordinate males – or the females may attempt to recruit you into their existing social system – as a junior member, of course. They have a strict pecking order.
Unfortunately for humans, your preferred gender may not necessarily actually translate to the gender that turkeys decide you are. And some turkeys may decide you’re “male” while others will decide that you’re “female,” so that will be confusing, and some dominant female turkeys have “male” sexual traits – like beards and tail fans – anyway. They recognize and remember humans, so if you had a particularly exciting encounter with a specific turkey, it will probably remember you.
Also unfortunately for humans, the fine distinctions between Turkey Seduction, Turkey Competition, and Turkey Networking are usually a little bit lost, and all of this behavior seems to be the same thing – it mostly consists of a large dinosaur-like bird trotting at you, possibly screaming and pecking and flapping, and can be worrying. If you are in the car and the turkey can see you, and it wishes to continue a previous encounter, it may well insist upon this in a frightening way.
Turkeys don’t give a shit about human “gender” and “authority,” as the many available videos on the internet of turkeys attacking police officers, reporters and mailmen will assure you. They just make logical decisions that are perfectly natural and reasonable to turkeys, and humans react by running away.
So what do you do about this? Well, DO NOT RUN AWAY, this means you that you are a Submissive Turkey and their behavior will escalate. Turkeys can learn the meaning of “no,” and you don’t have to be bullied by them.
The Humane Society has some tips to establish Dominance over wild turkeys, which will lead them to see you as a Strong Independent Turkey Who Don’t Need No Man. This will reduce their attacking and nuisance behaviors, but it may make you look like a fool.
And the Massachusetts Fish and Game website has a huge resource explaining all the subtleties of wild turkey behavior and how to combat the nuisances. Essentially, you must not attempt to make friends with them or attract them; once they arrive, you must “be bold” and establish Dominance, and encourage everyone to do the same.
If the turkeys are aggressive around children and the elderly, all sources agree that if they become a danger, you can contact the relevant authorities and have the turkeys removed or destroyed.
Anyway, that’s why turkeys attack cars. The take-home message is: the cars are too shiny and you are possibly a sexy turkey.
I don’t know what you want to make of that
You’re saying turkeys a) have a strict pecking order, b) have confusing-looking behaviors that are well-understood by the right people, and c) sometimes view humans as participating in that behavioral communication whether the human means to or not.
What do I have to do before I get to utter the sentence “band of wild turkeys that accepted me as their leader”?
While it might not be a sentence in the strictest sense, it works perfectly in, for example, the following exchange:
”What is that?!”
”Band of wild turkeys that accepted me as their leader.”
#turkey #reply via reblog