Why Are These Turkeys Circling Around A Dead Cat?

Thursday morning, a Boston man who goes by @TheReal_JDavis on Twitter captured the above morbid scene in Randolph, Massachusetts, just south of the city. In a separate tweet, he explained that the cat had been hit by a car in the middle of the road, and then a group of about 30 wild turkeys inexplicably began circling the corpse, obviously in some kind of satanic turkey ritual.

Within hours the tweet blew up and went viral, as a pack of turkeys circling a dead cat isn’t exactly something most people see on an average day — nor is it something most people want to see on an average day. In an effort to explain the freaky behavior, Boston Magazine reached out to the foremost turkey expert of Massachusetts, David Scarpitti, who agreed that it was definitely “unusual” and “really quite amazing.”

That’s one way of putting it.

Scarpitti told the publication that turkeys have a natural fear of cats, which are known to prey on the younger and smaller birds, so when they came across a dead one they were likely very curious to see whether it was alive or not. But because turkeys play “follow the leader,” if the lead bird got close enough to inspect, the others would just naturally fall in line, creating the circle formation.

Okay, great! Nothing to be concerned about here. Except

That said, Scarpitti says he has never seen footage like this in his more than 15 years as a wildlife biologist. He showed it to some of his colleagues at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, he says, and they’ve never seen anything like it either.

“It’s not something that’s really ever been documented until today,” he says.

So, probably not satanic turkeys then, but we can’t be 100 percent sure. Scarpitti reiterates that there’s nothing “supernatural” going on here, but maybe we should just stick to side dishes next Thanksgiving, just to be safe.

(Via Boston Magazine)