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Why Did These Turkeys March In A Perfect Circle Around A Dead Cat?

First Posted: Mar 06, 2017 03:20 AM EST
Wild Turkeys
A group of wild turkeys encircling the dead cat.
(Photo : Globe Feed/YouTube screenshot)

A group of wild turkeys was spotted marching in a perfect circle around a dead cat last March 2, 2017. It was seen and filmed by a resident of Massachusetts, who was surprised to see something like this.

Jonathan Davis of Randolph, Massachusetts, said that he got three dogs and four fish tanks at home enjoying nature and wildlife. He further said that it is not every day one sees something like that.

Of course, the turkeys are not pagan, yet most of the people who have seen the footage on Twitter said that the incident was like a ritual. Davis tweeted that those turkeys are trying to give the dead cat its 10th life. The video had received 38,000 retweets in less than 24 hours.

So, why did these turkeys encircle the dead cat? According to Tom Hughes, a wildlife biologist from the National Wild Turkey Federation, the reaction of the turkeys to the dead cat is some sort of a combination of curiosity and fear.

"My guess is they are puzzled by the strange behavior of the dead or dying cat," Hughes said. He further said that the turkeys wanted to get a better look, without getting too close. Thus, a circle of turkeys, mostly females, is eyeing the potential predator's carcass, but none of them wanting to get any closer, as noted by National Geographic.

Meanwhile, conservationist Jamie Wyver from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds explained the incident. She told IFL Science this started as typical behavior where the birds are keeping a close eye on a potential predator. She further said that she has 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. She added that this is a sensible strategy as it means the predator no longer has the element of surprise at its disposal.

In the case of the wild turkeys circling around a dead cat, she said that she was not sure what has happened. On the other hand, hopefully at some point, the turkeys will realize the cat is no longer a threat, according to Wyver.

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