Divine Turkey Talk

Talking with turkeys is enchanting and divine. They do not use consonants and vowels but trills and whistles, clicks and melodic tweets. When they have an especially poignant point to make, their vocalization is like a goose, a honking screech reverbrating throughout the bird enclosure.

At Animal Place, there are seven turkeys, all with unique personalities and quirks. There is Willow, the mercurial red turkey who's only use for humans is when she is feeling particularly amorous. Zarriah and Serena are twins, white with black markings, the matriarchs of the main turkey clan. Finally there is Maya, the smallest of the turkey hens. Her movements are flighty, flitting from one point to the next.

The remaining turkeys spend their time with the peepers - a sanctuary term for the birds rescued from the meat industry. Margaret (left), Mary Lou and Eliza (below right) are all who remains from a clutch of twelve peeping turkey poults. They had been saved from the life of a breeding hen, the artificial insemination, the harsh life and painful death that is the fate of all production turkeys.

All three are de-beaked, the top portion of their upper beaks mangled. Two have grown back, flimsy shadows of their former sturdy glory. Every now and then the regrown beak breaks or chips, leaving the hen back in her de-beaked state. Their feet are painful to look at, the first digit of every toe has been cut off leaving them permanently disabled, forced to limp and lurch about. De-toeing is a human comfort making it easier for catchers to sweep into the large breeding sheds and grab frightened hens by the legs without getting scratched.

It is hard not love the Turkey Trio. You can sit amongst them and hear, touch, feel their presence. If you are lucky, one might stand in front of you and croon to you a warbling tune. If you smile at just the right time, she will bestow upon you a lilting trill - you will not know what she means, but you will be grateful for the experience.

These three are old, by production turkey standards, an amazing five years of age. Their sisters have died, victims of genetics that leave them prone to heart attacks, broken limbs, poor immune systems. Margaret, MaryLou and Eliza trudge on, singing and talking their way through life. If only we could follow suit, reducing our lives to only that which is essential, welcoming friends, chastising enemies with harsh cries and nothing more, grooming and preening, existing for ourselves and one another. I can imagine this world sitting immersed among these snow-white turkeys, listening to their divine turkey talk and imagining what they might be saying.


Anonymous said...

I marked this sweet post as "yummy" (have never seen those designations before) not because I would like to eat the turkeys and hens, but because the taste left in my "mental" mouth makes me smile. You are so fortunate to be able to converse daily with the talking turkeys, Marji. And they are equally fortunate to have you as a friend. A true friend.