How the Hen House Turns: Turkeys are not Chickens

How the Hen House Turns: Turkeys are not Chickens
Column by Carolyn A. (Cary) Neeper, Ph. D.

I will attempt here to break an old myth. Turkeys are not as stupid as their reputation would have it. They’re simply not chickens.

Turkeys hunt by pointing and snatching flies sitting on chicken wire pens—then down the hatch. No grabbing and running and getting everyone else in the pen excited and into the chase, as chickens do. I guess hens like to play Keep Away. Even baby turkeys are as efficient as canine pointers—freezing, their beaks pointed with deadly accuracy, then inflicting sudden death on unsuspecting insects. Whappo! Thus procuring refreshment in an instant. No posturing, no running around, announcing “I got it. Ya Ya, I got a goody.”

More evidence—turkeys watch airplanes going over at 32,000 feet. I’ve never seen a chicken do that. Turkeys watch drops of water fly from a sprinkler head—clear evidence of an acute aesthetic visual sense.

Turkey Number One did not like getting her more or less bald head wet, so she’d stick it in the hen house door to keep it dry during a heavy rain. She didn’t seem to notice that the rest of her was a drooping mass of turkey feathers, probably because they formed such a thick blanket over her back. Turkey and chicken feathers are not coated with whatever keeps ducks and geese waterproof.

Final proof—Turkey Two can spot honeydew melon seeds in my kitchen scrap bucket as I come down the hill, and she never misses a beat at getting them first. However, she displays admirable sharing manners when there is melon rind to peck. She has never hit Lucy’s beak when they are both demolishing the goody I hold in my hand.

No, she has never hit my hand, either.

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