The female turkey was spotted hanging out on Nakuspian Don Mabie’s deck in December. He said she showed no fear of humans. Photo: Don Mabie

The female turkey was spotted hanging out on Nakuspian Don Mabie’s deck in December. He said she showed no fear of humans. Photo: Don Mabie

Talkin’ turkey in Nakusp

A wild turkey has stolen hearts in the village

By John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative, Valley Voice

Residents of Nakusp have, well, gone a bit bonkers over a turkey.

The female wild turkey has been hanging around town since the summer, and has built a local fan base of astonishing size.

For months people have reported on her whereabouts regularly on social media, posting notices of where she’s hanging out, debating her turkey motives, and asking drivers to be patient as she toddles across the street, taking her own sweet time.

“Why did she cross the road?” asked one Nakuspian in a recent post, setting up the perfect punchline from another: “To prove she isn’t chicken.”

Bad jokes aside, the young female – Miss Gobbler, Frances, Teena (no one can quite agree on a name yet) – is now appearing in other media.

“She is the town mascot and I wanted to incorporate her into a few paintings,” says Ricky Lamb, a local artist. He’s integrating the hen into a series of cartoony paintings featuring the bird, businesses and buildings in the community, and his own characters. “It seems that the patrons of town have taken her under their wings, and are very protective of her well-being.”

He’s not the only one to fall for the feathered female.

Another local artist, Don Mabie, also had a close encounter with the bird on his back deck in December, just shortly after watching it hang out with his neighbour.

“At one point I turned around from shovelling and standing some four to five feet from me was the wild turkey. She hung around for about 15 minutes drinking water off the deck and eating some of the greenery on one of the plants,” he recalls. “It seems to have no fear of humans and at times she was about two feet from me — within striking distance. I did fear for my life.”

He’s joking, of course, as turkeys are not known for their predatory behaviour.

So what’s the appeal? Mabie thinks he has an answer.

“I think people are bored, fed up with COVID-19 and the turkey is not doing anyone any harm and they like to see her hanging in there,” he says. “She is a diversion. When I see her, I do get a little excited, like seeing your pet when you get home. Perhaps that sounds a little weird – it is hard to explain.”

Lamb has a more straightforward theory as to why Nakuspians have taken the bird to heart.

“I think they have done that because the people of Nakusp are a very warm community… they really pull together when something happens to one of their own,” he says.

As for the bird, no one knows why she’s hanging around, though no doubt she’s got a good gig going, with half the town feeding her. In fact, rumour is a second turkey has appeared, muscling in on the action.

We’d ask, but we don’t talk turkey.

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