Sunday, September 24, 2023

This Is Why You Don’t Whistle At A Turkey (If It’s Still Alive)

About eight years ago, my then-girlfriend and I hosted Christmas at our apartment in Baltimore. My mom was visiting as was the family of a good friend of ours, so we decided to splurge on a humanely-raised turkey from a nearby farm.

We arrived at the farm a week or two before Christmas and were warmly greeted by its owners, who pointed us in the direction of a large field where a group turkeys were gathered. (I forget whether we actually choose the turkey we wished to consume and picked it up later, or if we purchased an already-killed turkey, but this has no real bearing on the story). As we walked towards the field, an older couple walked walking back to their car stopped, and we all exchanged basic pleasantries.

We began to walk away towards the turkeys when the woman stopped us and said, “You should try whistling at them.”

My then-girlfriend and I laughed. “No, we’re serious,” she said.

“Ha, okay,” I said. “We’ll give a try. Thanks.”

We Shouldn’t Have

Moments later we approached a large pen in which 40 or so turkeys wandered around, with as much space and freedom as you could hope for a farm animal raised for slaughter. After a minute or two or walking around the large pen, we agreed it was time to whistle at the turkeys.

Reader, this was a terrible mistake

When the red-waddled critters—who, it should be noted, were scattered around and facing every possible direction—heard our whistles, they all turned around in sync as if they were possessed by some demon, looked directly at us, and gobbled furiously in a way that, to two frightened and confused people, sounded like they were preparing an attack.

It was a little like the scene in the below video, except instead of fuzzy, little baby birds they were fully-grown, big-ass turkeys that seemed capable of causing serious damage if they rushed us in a group.

Thankfully, we escaped unharmed (the turkeys never actually got near us) and we all had a lovely Christmas dinner.

The lesson of all this is: Don’t whistle at a turkey until you’re sure it’s dead.

To learn more about the nuisances of scary birds, read the tale of Downtown Tom, the legendarily aggressive turkey of Davis, California.


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