Why Did The Turkeys Cross the Road?

Wild turkeys visit the garden outside WQED’s lunchroom, 30 Nov 2011 (photo by Stephen Baum)

Ted Sohier called my office yesterday, “There’s a flock of wild turkeys outside the lunchroom window.”   Alas, I missed the call and an “Outside My Window” moment with wild turkeys, but I heard all about it.

The excitement began around 12:15pm when a flock of six wild turkeys stopped traffic on Fifth Avenue as they crossed at Neville, heading south.  Unafraid of cars and people they disappeared into the wooded area between the CMU Residence and Central Catholic.

Fortunately it was lunchtime.  A paving crew had been tearing up WQED’s parking lot all morning but they’d left for lunch and the coast was clear.  From Central Catholic the turkeys spied our small garden and pond and headed straight for it across the parking lot.  Water and food!

The garden is barely large enough to contain six turkeys but they browsed for insects and drank from the pond while several staff members lined up inside the lunchroom to watch them at very close range.  Stephen Baum photographed them from two angles.

Here’s a slideshow of their activities.

Eventually the turkeys tired of the garden and headed back to Fifth Avenue where they paused at WQED’s front door near the Mister Rogers dinosaur (an ancient relative) before continuing east.

Where did they come from?  Where did they go?  Why did the turkeys cross the road?

I don’t know but I’d sure like to find out.

(photos by Stephen Baum)

11 thoughts on “Why Did The Turkeys Cross the Road?

  1. There’s a flock that hangs out by the zoo as well … from what I hear they visit the resident tom in Kid’s Kingdom on a regular basis.

    Polish Hill is overrun … you can see them hanging out on the “french fry” statue on Bigelow.

    I’ve also heard from Port Authority drivers that there’s a flock right next to downtown. They mill around on the busway right next to the Amtrak station.

    …… hard to believe that turkeys were almost gone in the early 1940s and they had to import them for re-introduction

  2. We have 6 who come up regularly under our back deck, we live in a condo, but the parking lot abuts the woods. They come up because they see my bird feeders hanging & when I see them I clench my fist & they know I will throw some seed down for them. Smart ones they are. They have a route here in Hunting Ridge in Bridgeville I think. We see them a lot more than we see the deer. They scare the squirrels away. If a car comes to park they sure do disappear fast. After seeing the film on WQED about the turkeys I do not try to approach them any more since they can be so aggressive.

  3. You could change the blog tag line from” Something to Crow About” to “Something to Gobble About”

  4. I’ve been reading Joe Hutto’s book “Illumination in the Flatwoods” that inspired the TV show. He writes, “Every day I see that the most important activity of a young wild turkey is the acquisition and assimilation of information. It is the food they are most hungry for.” …I suspect these were young wild turkeys. They were definitely curious!

  5. Some weeks ago, I saw four turkeys smack in the middle of Forbes near Beeler. They were taking their sweet time walking around while cars were going by during rush hour!

  6. So neat. It’s hard to tell from the pictures but it looks like they were all hens. Was there a tom with them? Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  7. We used to always see a group of turkeys on the grounds of Carlow back when I lived in Oakland. It was great to see “rural” birds in an urban environment. I wonder if any of the peregrines would take one?

    And I’ve always wanted to get a group of turkeys renamed to a “committee” of turkeys. ; )

  8. If they’re “ours”, they come from the hillside on the E side of Beeler to the yards on the west, up Unger Lane, thru the lawns, picking as they come, and then between our house and the next up the hillside, to the old Heinz Estate on Morewood Heights. Maybe the same as Franklin’s?

    I see them (or my neighbors report them) several times a week, generally around lunch time, always following the same pattern. There are 4 females and 2 males, and I think they’re the same chicks we saw very early this summer following mom and 2 aunts–my anthropomorphism–in the same pattern.

    Like Faith, I’ve kept my distance after the QED show! The 2 males were fake-fighting for a while one day, just pushing each other around and fanning their tail-feathers. Thru the window was close enough!

    I also saw a red-tail come “this close” to catching a pigeon in Mellon Square Downtown on Fri and another land on a telephone opposite the CVS on Wilkins and Wightman on Friday! My day for local hawks, I guess!


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