Monday, April 03, 2006

Blakeman: Wild turkey? No way.


As you recall, after the appearance of the Central Park turkey I emailed to you a note of concern regarding this bird. I asked you not to post it, as I'm not an authority on wild turkeys.

But the pictures of Cal Vornberger you posted today are simply too revealing. There can be no way this bird is a wild-hatched, wild-raised turkey. Authentic wild turkeys simply don't tolerate or associate with humans at such close range. Those who know the species would affirm this. It's one thing for Pale Male to hunt in Central Park, soar through its airspace, and even sit in Central Park trees with streams of people walking by beneath. The red-tailed hawks of Central Park are legitimate, new wild colonizers of this great urban area.

The behaviors of this turkey, however, deny its "wildness." Before anyone marks up this bird as a new wild species for Central Park, some serious investigation should be done. If I had to pick an explanation for the bird's origin, I'd strongly suggest that the bird has been raised by humans and later released. It too easily accommodates people. Wild turkeys are famous for their wariness and unapproachability. This bird violates all of these wild survival skills. It's far too tame.

In fact, someone who knows the plumage of wild turkeys needs to closely examine photos of the bird. There are many domestic turkeys with dark, wild-like plumages. This bird may only be someone's released pet, a bird that spent its youth in a farmyard, pen, or even a Manhattan apartment (weirder things happen, I'm sure).

There are lots of big biological question marks here -- beyond the improbabilities of a wild turkey electing for some unknown reason to enter Manhattan. The red-tails simply soared over and dropped in, finding things to their liking. The coyotes are natural wanderers and those canines have colonized virtually all urban areas in the Midwest and East.

But the turkey? I've got my doubts, now further strengthened by Cal Vornberger's photos.


--John A. Blakeman