On a beautiful Friday in April, it’s common to see people strolling through Arlington’s neighborhoods, opting for sun instead of florescent light during an extended lunch break. What is slightly uncommon to see, however, is a wild turkey among those pedestrians.
This is odd. Just watched this wild turkey running around Arlington’s Rosslyn area. ?? Must be a poultry convention in town ??♂️ pic.twitter.com/41Iewy2Ea1
— Q McCray (@ABC7Q) April 13, 2018
The video above, captured by ABC 7 WJLA’s Q McRay, shows a turkey running through Rosslyn on Friday morning (perhaps getting in some very early training for the Arlington Turkey Trot?).
A spokesperson for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington said its Animal Control team determined the turkey appears to be very healthy and uninjured, and that it was best to be allowed to continue on its way.
While it’s certainly not a regular occurrence, it’s perhaps more common than one might think — this is the second wild turkey sighting in Rosslyn within the past three weeks.
— Rosslyn, Virginia (@RosslynVA) March 26, 2018
Both instances of our fowl friends frolicking in Rosslyn (AWLA confirmed they were two separate birds) are a sign that wild turkeys continue to make an incredible comeback, thanks in part to restoration efforts from game commissions and hunting groups, writes the Natural Arlington Blog:
“Today, the wild turkey is an increasingly common feature of the natural, or not so natural, landscape and are often found in the suburban areas of Arlington and Fairfax. In their natural environment, wild turkeys rely on their sharp vision to detect and avoid hungry predators, especially during inclement weather.”
The previous turkey sighting occurred on March 26, when an ambassador from the Rosslyn BID spotted a large bird taking in the sights on N Moore Street. A quick call to AWLA resulted in the turkey getting rescued, examined, and, in conjunction with the County’s Parks and Recreation’s Natural Resources Manager, Alonso Abugattas, released into a quiet patch of woods in North Arlington. (This first incident was handled differently as the turkey, found in a construction site, was stressed and frightened, as determined by an Animal Control Officer.)
Abugattas said the first turkey was likely a two-year old male — a “Tom” or “Gobbler” — “based on the size/shape of the spurs and feather beard length,” and showed “quite a bit of wear along the edges of the wing which may mean it was already dragging its wings, strutting in search of a hen. This is the time for young turkeys to wander off, because it’s the breeding season.”
He added that Arlington has seen several turkeys lately, mostly along the Potomac River.
“One reason we may be seeing more turkeys all of a sudden,” explained Abugattas, “could be because the Toms (males) are looking for mates. It also shows turkey numbers may be up, an encouraging sign for the local habitat. The wildest parts of Arlington are along the Potomac, which is used as a wildlife corridor, so the turkeys might be ending up at Rosslyn simply because it’s nearby, and the end of the line.”
If you spot a turkey in Arlington — or any animal that might be out of its natural habitat, or in a dangerous situation — please call AWLA at 703-931-9241. Learn more about the many animals native to Virginia that have adapted well to the urban/suburban environment of Arlington, as well as steps you can take to coexist harmoniously with our non-human neighbors.