A Turkey in Manhattan

Last night I was walking through Battery Park on my way to a meeting when I noticed an unbelievably large bird strutting around the grass, apparently unconcerned with all the people, most of whom were equally unconcerned with it. It was, to all appearances, a Wild Turkey. This is the first one I’ve ever seen in Manhattan and only the second I’ve seen in New York City. (The first was in a remote corner of the Bronx Botanical Gardens in the late-eighties/early nineties.)

A Wild Turkey in Battery Park

I called it in to the rare bird alert, but apparently turkeys aren’t rare enough to qualify, even if they’re locally rare in downtown Manhattan. Lloyd Spitalnik did tell me one had been seen at this location last year too, so it may be the same bird returning.

Wild Turkey

I did consider whether it might be a domestic escapee, or even one deliberately put there. Some parks introduce swans. Why not a turkey? It’s certainly not a typical domestic bird, which is usually white, larger, unable to fly, and often incapable even of feeding itself. I suppose it could be one of the heritage breeds though. Those are considerably less stupid than the genetically engineered meat beasts harvested on most turkey farms today.

If anyone wants to check it out, it was in the South end of the park, near South Ferry, on a large lawn that had been roped off.

7 Responses to “A Turkey in Manhattan”

  1. Oisin McGuinness Says:

    This is likely to be Zelda, reported about in the NY Times at least 3 times in the last couple of years:

    An FYI story by Michael Pollak, November 20, 2005; a story about a turkey in Morningside park by Steven Kurutz from April 9, 2006; and the best one from November 24, 2006, “A Kinder, Gentler Way of stuffing a Turkey, by Cara Buckley, which appeared in the metro section, and had a nice picture. “Zelda a hulking feathered mass was perched some 40 feet up…”

    Also a story from November 2003 mentions turkeys in Riverside park.

    I must remember to look for Zelda sometime, but I don’t get down to Battery park often.


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  3. Tim Says:

    They were there back in May too.
    Flickr Photo.

  4. rbs Says:

    There are probably two turkeys hanging about Manhattan, as “Zelda” in Battery Park and “Hedda” in Morningside Park are almost certainly different birds.

    I have heard that Zelda gets around a bit, as I have read reports of what is presumably her also frequenting a religious institution up toward the village.

    As for Hedda, she’s been hanging around Morningside Park since at least April 2006. I encountered her frequently in early spring this year while waiting for the neighborhood hawk eyasses to hatch. (See e.g. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rbs10025/474085327/ ) She was a bit hard to find during the summer, but I did bump into her once in late July.

  5. Farialima Says:

    …than the genetically engineered meat beasts harvested on most turkey farms today

    It seems that your subconscious may have envisioned putting it in a pot for Thanksgiving ? :D

  6. Liz Says:

    I have recently been seeing a turkey on the median of the Southern State Pkwy going eastbound right before exit 20. The turkey appears fine but I wonder if it should be removed. Anyone have any ideas?

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