Turkey Mutterings

Visited the world famous La Brea tar pits of LA today (which are still bubbling methane quite merrily) and learned that indeed California did once have an indigenous turkey, but that it has gone extinct. After WWII the more familiar wild turkey from the East was introduced in various parts of the state, and naturalized readily — to the dismay of many in upscale Marin County. "Libidinous to a fault," "defiantly pecking," and "frightening" were words used in a story from the San Francisco Chronicle five years ago.

But birder Don Roberson makes the interesting argument that the turkey brought to California might be the same species that once roamed pre-human Los Angeles, about 10,000 years ago, and therefore the bird was actually reintroduced to one of its many ancestral homes, before being isolated from its eastern cousins.

Guess I’ll let the experts decide that one. But for a chuckle, check out one of the top ten bizarre experiments of all time, in which two researchers at Penn State set out to find out scientifically how picky male turkeys were about female turkeys. Would they mate with a female turkey without a tail?

Um, yes. Without wings? Yep. Without feet? Uhuh. Would they make love to a turkey head stuck on a stick? You betcha. How about with a withered male head on a stick? They would try. How about with a female head two years old, withered, discolored, and hard? Sure thing. How about with a balsa wood copy of a turkey head on a stick. No doubt about it.

Comments New Scientist:

Before we humans snicker at the sexual predilections of turkeys, we
should remember that our species stands at the summit of the bestial
pyramid of the perverse. Humans will attempt to mate with almost
anything. A case in point is Thomas Granger, the teenage boy who in
1642 became one of the first people to be executed in Puritan New
England. His crime? He had sex with a turkey.

(h/t: SciGuy)

Here’s a picture of the sexy California Turkey from 10,000 years ago — which may be pretty much the same bird who today can be found fouling cars on Mt. Tam. Don’t get crazy, now.





Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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