nature 07.19 (turkey)

Summer is a good time for reflection, both the mirror kind and the thoughtful kind. On a clear, still day the sky is reflected in the sea so perfectly that the horizon can be hard to distinguish in any certain way. At the pond, the green of the trees fills the surface of the water, obliterating any view of the murky or clear water below. The effect is startlingly fresh and crisp, cooling for the mind on an otherwise hot day.

Weather affects reflections, of course. Gray days bring a whole different kind of mirror image. Fog and rain can turn a simple pond view into an Impressionist painting without par if you’re in the mood for soft pastels and blurred outlines.

Humans are not alone in seeing reflections. Anyone who has had a puppy or kitten knows how cute and funny they can be when they discover that “other” puppy or kitten in the mirror. Birds react to reflections, as well.

Many of us may have experienced a bird attacking a window or car mirror. They see what they think is another bird and go after it with gusto. Often the only thing the car or window owner can do is cover up the reflective surface and hope the bird moves along to find a real bird to get upset with.

But what if the reflective surface is your whole car? As I came around a corner on my way to feed my daughter’s cats the other morning I came upon just such a scene. A neighbor had parked a shiny black Mustang at the end of the driveway and its beauty had not gone unnoticed. A small flock of young male turkeys had discovered another small flock of male turkeys reflected by the car and they were on a mission to remove the intruders from the area.

The turkeys had surrounded the car and were pecking and scratching away at the doors and bumpers of what appeared to be a brand-new car. It was very early and no one from the house seemed to be up, or at least they weren’t aware of the brazen activity going on just a few feet from their front door. Turkeys can do a fair amount of damage to a car’s paint job. I’m betting that the car owner was not pleased when he/she discovered the shenanigans that had transpired.

When I drove by again later, only one turkey remained at the scene, but he was still letting that car turkey know it was not welcome in the neighborhood. So, here’s a question for the turkey whisperers out there: Do black or dark cars get more turkey love, or hate, than other colors? The reflections in the black surface were quite accurate in color and very realistic, even from a distance. Note to self: No black car. I’m curious, though, as to what other colors attract them. A quick Google search proved that turkeys do a lot of damage to cars and trucks, and they are actually listed as a cause of damage on insurance claims.

As summer gears up for her few weeks of sheer glory, I find myself reflecting on many things. I wonder whether the pollinator population is crashing here and elsewhere. I’ve seen bees and butterflies but nowhere near the numbers I’ve seen in the past. Is the poison algae in the ponds nature’s way of telling us to stop being jerks and be kind to the environment? Will the increase of seals and sharks make people so upset that they’ll want to commit mass murder against them? Will the right whales survive? Will polar bears? Penguins? Will we just pave and frack ourselves into oblivion?

Some days it all feels help-less, especially when the news is filled with rollbacks of environmental regulations, taxes on renewable energy that are higher than those on fossil-fueled energy, and so forth and so on. We are living in perilous times. Not just for us, but for the world as we have come to know it. It’s time we all look in the mirror, perhaps, and accept responsibility for the things we can change. Let’s not be a bunch of turkeys.

Mary Richmond is an artist, writer, naturalist and educator who grew up on the Cape and lives in Hyannis. More information at

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