Around New England

Wild Turkeys On Cape Cod Date From … 1989

November 25, 2021

Cape Cod is awash with wild turkeys these days. They take over roadways, crowd paths, and even occasionally try to get into a store in downtown Falmouth.

But there were roughly zero turkeys on Cape Cod between 1851 – when turkeys were eradicated everywhere in Massachusetts – and 1989, when 18 of the big-winged, wobbly, slow-of-flight birds were released at Camp Edwards on the Upper Cape, according to a story in The Cape Cod Times.

“Call them the gobbling washashores,” writes Eric Williams in The Cape Cod Times.

During the 1970s, state biologists introduced (or re-introduced) wild turkeys from New York state into western Massachusetts, and later to other parts of the state.

Now, state officials estimate there may be between 30,000 and 35,000 wild turkeys in Massachusetts.

Familiarity doesn’t necessarily breed understanding, though.

Turkey behavior perplexes an ornithologist who serves as science coordinator at the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellfleet.

“I cannot make heads or tails of their social organization or their comings and goings. I don’t understand the changing flock sizes and it bugs me,” said Mark Faherty, an ornithologist, according to The Cape Cod Times.

Brave wild turkeys scavenge along the side of Quaker Meeting House Road in Sandwich, Massachusetts on Thursday, November 25, 2021 — which is also Thanksgiving. Photo by M.J. McDonald.


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