News just in: Turkeys are even weirder than their gobbles and dangly neck-thingys suggest.
Yesterday, Twitter user @TheReal_JDavis from Massachusetts spotted a strange sight of a dozen turkeys marching in a perfect circle around a dead cat.
He shared the video of this ornithological nightmare along with the well-executed caption: “These turkeys trying to give this cat its 10th life.” People are understandably confused and amused, as shown by the video, which received 38,000 retweets in less than 24 hours.
So, aside from seeking social media stardom, or summoning the devil, what the hell are these head-bobbing turkeys doing?
"This will have started as fairly typical behavior where the birds are keeping a close eye on a potential predator," Conservationist Jamie Wyver from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) told IFLScience.
"I’ve seen wildfowl do this with dogs – as the dog walks along the edge of a pond, the birds swim alongside to watch where it is going. It’s a sensible strategy as it means the predator no longer has the element of surprise at its disposal. In this particular case I’m not sure what has happened, but hopefully at some point the turkeys will realize the cat is no longer a threat!"
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology also told us: "They are curious birds and they are checking out the cat, since it could be a potential predator, but that’s about the extent of it. The fact that they are circling in such a ritualistic fashion is somewhat unusual, but not something we can label with human intentions!"
This seems to be the consensus among turkey behavior experts (who appear to be having an unusually busy day this morning). David Scarpitti, another wildlife biologist and turkey aficionado, shared a similar explanation to the Boston Globe, adding: ”There’s always a ring leader with one in charge, and she likely encountered it to evaluate the threat. And as she is doing that, the rest are following suit. It’s just really creepy and weird.”
As expected, the Internet has also been hard at work creating homages, bad jokes, and remixes of this truly bizarre behavior.
Never stop doing your thing, nature.