Turkeys Walk in a Circle Around a Dead Cat

Posted on March 3, 2017

Twitter user J... @TheReal_JDavis shared an amazing short video on Twitter of a group turkeys circling a dead cat in the middle of the road. There appear to be about twenty turkeys in the circle. Biologists say the strange sight is not a supernatural event.

Boston Magazine interviewed David Scarpitti, Massachusetts' foremost turkey expert, to get an explanation. Scarpitti says the sight is very unusual but he thinks the turkeys were curious about the potentially dead predator and wanted to see if was still alive. They ended up in a near circle around the cat because of the natural tendency of turkeys to follow a leader.

Gizmodo talked to Mark Hatfield, wildlife biologist at the National Wild Turkey Federation. Hatfield says, "They're just making sure that it's no longer a threat. It's more of a curiosity type of thing. Turkeys are very basic."

Biologist and bird behavior expert Alan Krakauer told NPR that turkeys will sometimes approach a predator. This risky approach can help make fellow turkeys aware of the threat. It may also encourage the predator to leave. He says, "Or it could let the predator know the prey are aware of its presence, which might encourage the predator to move elsewhere to seek an easier meal — a lot like a group of small songbirds mobbing a hawk or owl they have discovered."

The incident made it onto Animal Planet. Take a look:

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