Heading out again into the world late in the afternoon, we found the wildlife of El Cerrito leading us along paths once again we did not expect. I turned left down a road I had not planned to take only to find some birds in the road. It was not surprising really, since there are many birds near the ocean/bayside communities of this area and earlier I had seen three crows discussing their dinner plans as they sauntered down the sidewalk an hour earlier.
I thought they were geese at first since they like to hang around this area as a rest stop between migrations; this clan consisted of a rather large kind of bird and they moved slowly down the road as if it were there specifically for them to strut along. As I rolled up slowly upon them, I soon realized they were turkeys of the wild variety, not the dinner type we were very familiar with only weeks ago during the holidays…
They moved along toward the sidewalk, all except for one. This one, the biggest one, the one with the feathers ruffling up and staring us down hard like we were cowboys on the main road about to draw our guns for one last stand, came at our car- our 4000 pound car, with his head lowered and feathers getting taller along his back and tail with every step, challenging, threatening. I stopped the car for the stand off as he came up to the door and stared down my husband as he finished rolling up the window. Then, the bird stepped around to the front of the car and pecked at the bumper, letting us know that we were getting close- way to close to his ladies and he wasn’t asking us to back off, he was telling us to get the fuck out of dodge! The eight ladies all looked over their shoulders at us as they moved on at the same pace, not hurried but just a bit faster as he again pecked at the car. He turned away and walked on with that command of respect one would have been deemed a coward to shoot such a gunslinger of his caliber in the back, so we slowly rolled on. However, this kingly bird took my action as continued stalking of his ladies and again came at us, angry and without any fear. It was quite impressive that this creature would put himself at risk to protect what was his, even against such a large and dangerous foe. He turned again and walked away and I waited, honoring the respect that he demanded, trying to give them a little more space.
As I moved forward again I came to an intersection and decided to go the opposite direction so not to agitate them further. Before I could begin to make the turn though, the male turkey was again coming at us and pecking at the front of the car. Another car was coming from the opposite direction and stopped to witness this, as did a lady across the street that was walking her little dog. The turkey must have been showing off at this point because now he wouldn’t go on and keep pecking at the car so I honked the horn. He responded with that crazy sound a turkey makes, although it didn’t really sound like laughing. I honked again and he returned insults, then slowly turned again and moved on down the road with his ladies.
Now, I had always heard that turkeys were really stupid creatures and having not met one before now I had no point of reference. Well, whatever their brain capacity, I quickly learned that they demand respect and this act of bravery, yes- mixed with a little stupidity, is something to learn from and remember the next time a bully gets in my path. What’s right is right, no matter your size or status and sometimes you just have to ruffle your feathers up and face your enemies with every ounce of what you got! That, and always have your video camera ready!