|Wild turkeys with their young poults, seen on the side of the highway in RI.|
It is Thanksgiving tomorrow, here in the US. It's turkey time. Every year the President ceremonially pardons some turkeys, saving them from being somebody's dinner. Here in Rhode Island, birds without the right political connections are defrosting in fridges waiting to be cooked for tomorrow's feast, and the only turkeys breathing easy today are the wild ones.
If you see a wild turkey in Rhode Island it is probably a Eastern Wild Turkey. The bird is thriving here after almost completely dying out in the 1800s due to hunting and deforestation. Their numbers are now estimated to be in the thousands due to re-population efforts, which is good news.
Unfortunately, more sightings are being reported in suburbia. I went out to get my paper one morning and watched a large male turkey run down our street as if his life depended on it (apparently turkeys can run up to 25 mph). It was quite the sight! I waited to see if what was chasing him was going to run by as well but nothing else appeared. Officials are concerned turkeys are being fed by well meaning residents, which encourages them to stay in populated areas, but wild turkeys need forest habitat to survive. They roost in trees, after all. If you see wild turkeys in your yard, enjoy them, but don't encourage them to stick around.
So, to wild turkeys everywhere, gobble, gobble! To the rest of you, Happy Thanksgiving and I will see you here after the holiday.