Turkeys Perform Funeral Ritual for Cat

A cat was killed by a vehicle. Soon, a group of a more than a dozen wild turkeys formed a circle around the cat and marched around.

Were they paying their respects? Were they celebrating its demise? Trying to revive it? Did they even know the cat? This bizarre scene went viral on Twitter. Time to ask the experts.

They might be performing what’s called a “predator inspection,” says Alan Krakauer, a biologist at the University of California, Davis, who studies the behavioral ecology of birds, in an email to The Verge. Sometimes, animals lower down in the food chain approach predators — a behavior that can be seen as risky, but can actually help the prey. Making the predator aware that the prey know it’s there can sometimes scare the predator away. The “inspection” also allows the prey to check how determined the predator is to attack, and can alert other animals to the danger.

What’s weird is that in the video the turkeys are circling a dead cat — definitely not a dangerous predator. And turkeys don’t usually eat dead animals, including dead cats, so it’s not like they’re doing some weird ritual dance before tasting their meal. What could be happening is that the turkeys are stuck in some kind of never-ending circle, with each bird following the tail in front of it. “It’s not unusual for them to get into those dances where they chase each other around,” Scott Gardner, a turkey expert with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, tells The Verge.

So it's very possible that the turkeys themselves don't know why they are doing this. -via reddit

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

Seems to me the Turkeys were trying to decide a couple of things about the cat: What happened to it? And is it really dead?
Can almost gear one turkey saying:
"As Coroner I must aver,
I thoroughly examined her.
And she's not only merely dead,
she's really most sincerely dead."

Crows also react to dead critters
Caitlin Doughty of Ask A Mortician just posted something about crows doing something similar.
Interesting links to articles under her video.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
My friend who grew up on a turkey farm says these birds are really - well, the domesticated turkeys are - dumb. I wrote about my friend here before and how the turkeys collapsed their barn. He said that, for fun, he would get a piece of chalk and draw a line on some cement and put a turkey's beak onto the chalk line. Then he'd step back and watch what the bird did. Which was nothing. The bird was pretty much frozen in place, just looking at the ground. My friend said the bird would stay there for an hour, maybe 2, then suddenly look up and calmly walk away. He said he found a turkey that had flown into a tree hole and gotten stuck. When he pulled it out it was in a total vegetative state and they had to put it down.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
No, now you have not. There are sooo many things in the world that we truly know nothing about. Give it a few months and something else will amaze/shock you. Life is like that!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Turkeys Perform Funeral Ritual for Cat"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More