Affable tom turkey making friends with bemused Strasburg residents
A wild turkey spotted at Cedar Creek near U.S. Route 11 in Strasburg has become a source of entertainment for local residents.
The turkey has been hanging around the median strip near the creek for a few weeks, according to Fred Frenzel, wildlife biologist at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
“According to a fellow I talked to at the site, he said he had been seeing it for a couple of weeks,” said Frenzel. This individual also notified Frenzel that several people have been feeding the turkey.
This sort of behavior, Frenzel said, is not typical of most turkeys in the area. “It appears to be a young bird…[that] was born this spring.”
Frenzel said he believes the turkey is young based on the fact that “it has the feathers of a male bird, but it hasn’t grown a beard at all.”
As for where the turkey came from, Frenzel is unsure. “Somebody could have found a turkey’s nest, taken the eggs and hatched them, which is not legal,” Frenzel said.
“It’s unusual for [a turkey] to be that unafraid of people and hang around the vehicles,” Frenzel said. At the same time, Frenzel said that since “it is young and being fed” that might have helped the turkey overcome its natural fear of humans.
“That is probably one reason why it has stuck around,” Frenzel said.
And although Frenzel does not believe that any laws are being broken, he strongly advises against feeding the bird.
“If people would stop feeding it, then it would probably go on its way, find other turkeys and go about its business.”
Frenzel said there could be other turkeys in that area.
“We have pretty good numbers of turkeys and they are spread pretty well across the valley,” he said, adding that as far as the turkey finding natural food, “this has been a good fall . . . we had a tremendous acorn crop this year.”
Acorns, he said, are one of the primary food sources for turkeys during the fall.
Frenzel said his department is unlikely to do anything about the turkey since it has not harmed anyone.
“If it comes to the point where it’s starting to become a hazard of some sort, then we may try to catch it and get it out of there,” he said.
“We don’t like to interfere if we don’t have to . . . and I don’t see that [there is] a terrible risk for the bird right now.”
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