Wild turkeys circle stricken cat in bizarre ritual, but there’s an explanation

The scene was as eerie as it was bizarre, but there appears to be an explanation as to why more than a dozen wild turkeys walked continuously in circles around a stricken cat Thursday on a paved street outside of Boston.

The accompanying footage was posted to Twitter by Jonathan Davis beneath the caption, “These turkeys trying to give this cat its 10th life.”

Davis, who captured the footage in the suburb of Randolph, comments in the video, “That is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”

But it turns out this ritualistic proceeding might have been a means of self defense.

A spokesperson for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology told the website IFLScience that the “curious birds are checking out the cat, since it could be a potential predator, but that’s about the extent of it. The fact that they are circling in such a ritualistic fashion is somewhat unusual, but not something we can label with human intentions.”

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Jamie Wyver of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds added that this seems “a sensible strategy as it means the predator no longer has the element of surprise at its disposal.”

It remains unclear how much time passed before the turkeys realized that the cat was not alive and posed no threat.

But Davis’ 24-second clip is being widely viewed, and generating news headlines. At the time of this post, his tweet had been retweeted 55,000 times, and liked by 87,000 people.

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