They came strutting across our newly seeded lawn like swaggering, fat little soldiers in a tight trio formation. Blabbering noisily, they bobbed their heads up and down and back and forth like pistons, occasionally stopping to scratch for grubs with their powerful, gnarly talons.
The leader of the pack, or flock (can three be a flock?) was a vigilant bloke, who kept one wary eye on the porch sitters, who were clumsily knocking over coffee cups and reaching for their cameras. The other two, oblivious, were greedily pecking at the hotdog bun I was tearing up and flinging over the railing as B crept in closer for a snap. The birds’ unperturbed demeanors suggested they might be domestic escapees from our neighbors’ menagerie down the road (see my previous post). But no, a quick iPhone Google search told me, these were more likely three adolescent, wild turkey males—or three Jakes—traveling life’s road together.
Shod in my red Crocks, B was soon dancing his own version of the Turkey Trot back and forth across the lawn, advancing toward or withdrawing from the unit as their level of unease dictated. When B would encroach too far into the trio’s personal space, the head Jake would throw up his head and waggle the red, fleshy snood on the side of his nose, setting off a cacophony of “warning gobbles.” Then, when B would respectfully step back, the Jakes would be quick to forgive and even follow him in a strange gesture of camaraderie. What gave? Was my husband some kind of Irish Dr. Doolittle or avian Svenghali? He was named after several saints, including Saint Francis. Hmmm…
This dance went on for some time, with man and birds disappearing around the back of the house and reappearing on various parts of the property. At some point, the head Jake decided he’d had enough of the silliness, and turned to lead his feathered fraternity away, back to wherever turkeys go to take their turkey naps on summer afternoons. B, however, was not with them, for in truth, he had not been invited. Apparently, he had only momentarily been accepted as “one of the boys.”
Strange turkey facts:
• Turkeys can see in color but have poor night vision
• Only male turkeys gobble. Hens, or females, make a clicking sound. And only adult males are called Toms.
• Turkeys are prone to heart attacks if startled by loud noises.
• The ballroom dance the Turkey Trot was named after the short, jerky steps that turkeys take.
• Benjamin Franklin praised the turkey as “a much more respectable bird than the Bald Eagle,” and would have preferred it to be America’s national bird.