Feathered Winos

Every morning, after the sky brightens around 6 am, the birdfeeders get a visit from a mother turkey and her four toddling pullets. They come up Main Street from the direction of the Town Dock, enter the August-brown dead grass lawn and cross it together, in a strung out line — mother in the middle, two on each flank — pecking for stuff as they bob and amble across the driveway to the arbor.

The mother raids the hanging feeders, knocking down enough seed so the young ones can scratch and eat while she stands guard and peers around suspiciously, waiting for some predator to come out of nowhere and cause some carnage. They hang out for ten minutes, clean up the spilled seed (I’m reaching for an Onan reference here), then shuffle off the way they came, back into the woods behind the house where the local wildlife sanctuary seems to reside, including a very vocal owl, a murder of crows, an occasional covey of quail and the whiff of a skunk.

The turkeys visit every morning. The dog is insane with hatred. Squirrels were bad enough, chipmunks infuriating, but the turkeys confuse the dog, who senses something alien and dinosaurish about them that just isn’t right. The song birds stay away from the feeders while the turkeys are in residence, and flock back under the Concord grapes as soon as they move on.

Like the ospreys overhead, I never saw these birds until a few years ago. After being nearly wiped out during the Depression by hungry Cape Codders, they’ve made a comeback and gone from novelties to nuisances in some minds, one wit calling them “feathered winos staggering around our neighborhoods.”

They attack mail men. They charge children. They cross roads and cause little traffic jams. I want to go full Pilgrim  Localvore this November and eat one for Thanksgiving but I understand you can only shoot them with black powder, muzzle loading blunderbusses while wearing pointy shoes with pewter buckles on the third Tuesday of October no closer than 5 miles to the nearest dwelling.

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