Earlier summer this year, I had a most unusual encounter in my neighbourhood. I met a female wild turkey.
It was late afternoon. I had made a quick visit to the pharmacy down the road, and I was coming back home on my bike. The road was busy with evening rush hour. Next to the roaring cars, I was pedaling my bike eager to reach home when I saw something large and brown slowly moving between bushes on my right. My instinct told me that this was something not to be missed. I immediately pressed the break, and my bike came to a sudden halt.
Near the place where I live in Ottawa, there is something called the Central Experimental Farm. Despite the scary name, it’s really just a vast farmland/park in the middle of the city with several research buildings scattered in the area. The federal government built this facility in the 19th century to enhance the agricultural research in Canada.
Living next to the Experimental Farm means that we are surrounded by a variety of less common animals. However, what I saw that evening was extraordinary even in the context of the Experimental Farm.
As I looked closer, I realized that the large brown thing was a bird. It was much taller and more robust than the Canada geese. With its strong legs, the bird was walking on the grass alone. Its face had a peaceful expression, and it paid absolutely no attention to the noise on the road. Slowly slowly, the bird walked with a sense of satisfaction on its face.
I stood there maybe just 2 meters from the bird, and watched it intently. Then I slowly walked alongside for a while. I couldn’t believe that nobody was surprised by this bird’s presence. It was as if the bird and I had been transported to another world where the noise of this world could not reach us.
After some blissful moments with the bird, I realized that I needed to go back home. The bird looked determined to continue its walk, and if I were to stay with it, I wouldn’t reach home before my supper time even though my house was already visible. I looked at the bird one last time before I hopped onto my bike and pedaled my way home.
My heart was still pounding with excitement as I prepared my supper. I was still thinking about the bird when I sat in my room and said my gratitude for the day. Then just when I started to eat and watch the TV series Anne with an “e”, my eye caught the sight of something unusually large flying outside of my window. I immediately pressed pause, and looked out of the window to check what it was.
There I saw the same bird that I had met a moment ago flying across the backyard toward a maple tree. Flapping the wings, its heavy body was half falling, but it managed to perch itself on one of the larger branches of the tree. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to first find this unusual bird on the street, then have this bird visit me in the backyard!
The bird was completely enjoying itself. It stayed on the branch for a very long time before it left for another adventure.
Later, I told about this encounter to a friend who was knowledgeable about the local nature, and she said it was quite possible that what I saw was a wild turkey. I jumped with surprise. I googled some pictures of wild turkeys and yes, they looked similar to the bird that I saw.
So this was how I met the very first wild turkey in my life.