It was a beautiful sunswept day in June. My poodles and I were walking, as we often did, in Dow Prairie at the U-M’s Nichols Arboretum. We caught flashes of the iridescence as blue indigos chased one another.
All of a sudden, a bird’s head shot up out of the grass and squawked loudly.
A large wild turkey presented itself on the path. The mood was not friendly.
My poodles were torn between curiosity and fear. I was not. As I turned to run, I noticed small chicks behind the turkey. She—for a she it was—charged forward, stomping her feet, flaring her wings, and making a noise like a train horn. Despite her girth, she was very fast.
Dragging my dogs back along the path, I took a sharp turn toward the prairie, seeking escape. To my dismay, the hen pursued us to its very edge. I stumbled and gasped, heart pounding, turned to face my pursuer, willing to offer my dogs, or at least one of them, first.
Imagine, then, if you will, my relief to see her stop at the edge of the clearing.
Keeping her eyes on us, she stalked back and forth, blocking the path toward her chicks. I began to back away.
At this point, I was struck by how very like a velociraptor she looked.
Indeed, Velociraptors were feathered. Fragments of a poem came to me, “Hope is the thing with feathers…”. It seemed not to match the moment, yet I felt my spirits lift as the turkey retreated and turned to home.
Conclusion: Turkey hens take mothering very seriously. And why should they not? After all, since the first Pilgrims lit on the scene, they’ve been living in a terrorist state.