With most staying away from the street, turkeys enjoy some...

With most staying away from the street, turkeys enjoy some R&R on the front lawn of Expressway writer Christopher Brown’s home in Wading River. Credit: Christopher Brown

I never knew much about turkeys. Growing up, I always saw a cooked one appear on our Thanksgiving table, loved eating it, and then fought with my sister, Meg, and my cousins over breaking the wishbone. As an adult living close to Miloski’s Poultry Farm in Calverton, I would see small turkeys suddenly appear at the farm in late summer, get plumper as time went on and then just as suddenly disappear, causing my three young children to ask countless questions as to where the turkeys had gone. Little did I know that years later, I would become much more “turkey literate.”

About three years ago on a beautiful fall morning, in amazement, I spotted turkeys strolling across our front lawn in Wading River. I counted 36 and soon found out that they were wild turkeys now inhabiting our part of Long Island. After that initial sighting, I’d occasionally see three or four strutting around our neighborhood, but their number never came close to that first day. Gradually they vanished, or so I thought.

Around the time the pandemic started (and I don’t think it had anything to do with that), the turkeys reappeared, and that’s when my education about wild turkeys increased. Turkeys now appear daily on our property. They strut around the yard poking the ground for worms and, hopefully, ticks in the warmer weather. When approached, they scatter hither and yon and even fly when our two black Labradors lay claim to their domain. They leave droppings all over, making regular “poop patrol” a daily necessity as our dogs think turkey droppings are a fine afternoon snack.

Tom turkeys are generally surrounded by their harems and often march around letting the females know who’s boss. Sadly, sometimes a lone turkey appears, seemingly cast out by the flock. Our “guests” roost in nearby trees, settling there as twilight approaches, and squawk as they claim their rightful places in trees of their choosing, only to descend at dawn to begin another day, strolling, squeaking and pooping around the neighborhood.

Amid these troubling times, our turkeys do provide us with daily laughter. You have to smile as they “do their thing.” It’s even amusing to see strangers stop their cars to photograph turkeys strutting across our lawn. I admit I sometimes get annoyed at the birds and hope they’ll move to another locale.  I have gotten my hopes up when, out for a walk, I see them visiting another part of town. Recently, a neighbor remarked, “Last year we had 20. This year maybe about 40. Maybe 80 next year?” Now that’s one scary thought!

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and as I see our feathered friends every day, I start to feel guilty. Am I going to purchase at King Kullen or Stop & Shop one of their relatives for our traditional dinner? Probably not, but maybe we should try roast beef or lasagna this year.  Will one of our eight grandchildren ask about a possible connection between our dinner turkey and the ones they love to chase outside our home? The food will be tasty, and perhaps that thought won’t even enter their young minds as they fight over the marshmallow-covered sweet potatoes.

So, happy Thanksgiving to all. Count your blessings and maybe even your turkeys!

Reader Christopher Brown lives in Wading River.