Why Are These Turkeys Doing This?

By Ryan F. Mandelbaum on at

If you’re interested in attending a Thanksgiving seance, one Twitter user has filmed the creepiest bird video you’ll see today: a gang of turkeys circling clockwise around a seemingly dead cat.

It’s definitely not the first time someone’s filmed a turkey circling something: someone caught this turkey circling a headstone in Cape Cod, Massachusetts back in 2013. But this situation certainly looks sinister.

So why the hell are they doing this?

“I can’t say I’ve heard of something like this before,” Debra Kriensky, a conservation biologist at NYC Audubon, told Gizmodo. “They’re omnivores but pretty much eat nuts and seeds and fruits, so certainly they wouldn’t be interested in eating [the cat].” She thought they were just checking out the weird new thing.

Another biologist agreed. “They’re just making sure that it’s no longer a threat,” Mark Hatfield, wildlife biologist at the National Wild Turkey Federation told Gizmodo. “It’s more of a curiosity type of thing. Turkeys are very basic.”

Hatfield reminded me several times not to anthropomorphise the birds. They aren’t plotting anything sinister — it’s more likely that the dumb group just got stuck on a loop following each other trying to avoid the cat. “It’s a non-story from the biological side of things,” he said. They’ve flocked together on instinct upon seeing the potential predator. “They’re saying that’s a threat, I’m gonna keep my distance and I’m following the flock.”

If the idiot turkey seance were to potentially offer the cat a tenth life, the turkeys would immediately fly or run away, said Hatfield.

We’ve contacted other turkey experts to see if this behaviour has any deeper explanation than incredible stupidity. But I honestly don’t think it’s that weird. Us humans circle dead turkeys all the time. [Twitter, h/t Samer]