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Motorist stops to help wild turkey, forms strong attachment

Wild turkeys are enormous birds that roam throughout North America. When full grown, they are up to four feet long from beak to tail and they can weigh upwards of twenty pounds. Females usually measure three feet and weigh approximately twelve pounds. Although they are strong fliers, their weight makes flying a great effort and they prefer to walk or run. They have long legs and are easily able to outrun many predators. Their strong beak and enormous claws make them a formidable bird that only larger predators such as coyotes or wolves would dare attack. This adult female was standing at the side of a busy road in cottage country near Gravenhurst, in Northern Ontario, Canada. The cars were whizzing past and the bird was simply looking at traffic, as if it might be injured or sick. Dave, a motorist who was making his way to the family cottage, has a soft spot for animals and he couldn't simply pass by after seeing such unusual behavior. These wild birds are very wary and would normally retreat into the grass or trees at the sign of a car. Dave's wife is also a veterinarian who has an even bigger soft spot for wildlife. She would happily treat an injured turkey if it needed help. With this in mind, Dave stopped his van and had a closer look. His dash camera was running and it recorded a very surprising and unusual interaction. Trying not to scare the turkey, he made a cautious and slow approach. Instead of running off into the woods, the turkey stood and looked at him curiously. It made soft and very adorable gobbling sounds, and it moved its head around as if it were perfectly healthy. But turkeys are afraid of humans and this one should not have allowed him to approach. As Dave reached out to touch it, the turkey walked several steps and stopped. It even flapped its wings and flew short distances, demonstrating that it had no leg or wing injuries. Dave recorded the bird, knowing that his wife would ask questions later about its behavior and possible injuries. The bird pecked at berries and gravel, normal feeding behavior that only a relaxed bird would exhibit. After a few minutes, it seemed to Dave that the turkey was perfectly fine. Then he wondered if there could be chicks in the long grass that she was reluctant to leave. He got back in the van and backed up, intending to watch her from a distance to see if chicks emerged. Unbelievably, the turkey walked up to the front of the van and stood staring at Dave. He backed up farther and the turkey followed. He began to move faster and the turkey ran behind the van to keep up. It almost appeared to be upset that he was leaving. Dave reached a small cottage side road and stopped the van, completely bewildered by her behavior. They were now almost a quarter mile from the original spot and there was no way she had been waiting for babies. He approached her again. This time, when he reached out, she remained still. Dave rubbed her chest and tummy and she made soft noises as if this was what she had been looking for. She lay down on the tar beside him and he petted her back. Dave didn't like the idea of her being on the side of the road and he decided to move her. Incredibly, she allowed him to pick her up. She looked at him contentedly as he carried her a short distance and set her down. Dave decided to carry her farther into the grass and he picked her up again. At this point, a car drove up on the side road and two young men stared in disbelief. They commented "You don't see that every day. How did you catch it?" Unsure of how to explain it, Dave decided that nothing he said would be believable. Because he's a natural smart Alec, he told them "I bought it frozen but it thawed out on the way up." The turkey flew from his hands but landed on the ground a few feet away. It had no interest in the trees. Dave had a last look, decided that it did not need help and that he would be best not to interfere. He wished it luck and drove away as it stared after him. There is no logic to this turkey's behavior. There are no houses or cottages nearby. The turkey certainly was not a pet. Sometimes, it seems animals will simply allow an interaction. Hopefully this friendly turkey will be careful near the road!

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