Late one afternoon a couple of weeks ago, the local 911 called—a lady in the county seat had reported an injured turkey. I asked for the lady's name and number and immediately called her, thinking the whole time, A turkey? In town? The lady answers and I identify myself and ask her to tell me what she's got...
"Well, it's a wild turkey, and there's a dead animal in the road and he just keeps going back and eating on it, and when a car comes by he flies or runs off and then comes back, and I don't know what's wrong with him."
I already know what she's got, and it ain't a turkey...exactly. "Are you sure it's a turkey?"
"Well, yeah, it's got a red head--ain't that a turkey?"
"Ma'am, turkeys don't eat roadkill; what you have is a turkey vulture, and there's nothing wrong with him if he can fly away and return to his meal between cars." I'm stifling laughter at this point.
"Get outta here! I'm so excited! It's a what?"
"A turkey vulture. They have red heads, like a turkey. That's where the name comes from." My voice HAS to be trembling by this point; I'm biting my lips so I don't laugh in her ear.
"Damn! Who knew? What's it called again?"
I speak veerrry slowly and enunciate veerrry clearly. "A. tur.key. vul.ture."
"Well, I had no idea! Are they common around here?"
"Yes ma'am, they're pretty common. You might want to go drag the carcass out of the road between cars, so he doesn't end up roadkill while eating roadkill. Vultures are pretty good at avoiding cars, but every now and then some do get hit."
"Oh, I can't do that; I can't handle that kind of thing! There's not a lot of traffic on this street, anyway."
I'm ready to end this conversation now. "Well, just keep any eye out and let's hope he doesn't get hit while he's eating."
Sooo…in light of this glaring case of mistaken identity, please be sure the turkey you serve for Thanksgiving is indeed a turkey and not a vulture!