My life as a Turkey (vimeo link)
December 1, 2021 11:04 AM   Subscribe

I came to realize that these young turkeys in many ways were more conscious than I was. Had I known what was in store—the difficult nature of the study and the time I was about to invest—I would have been hard pressed to justify such an intense involvement.

After a local farmer left a bowl of eggs on Joe Hutto's front porch, his life was forever changed. Hutto, possessing a broad background in the natural sciences and an interest in imprinting young animals, incubated the eggs and waited for them to hatch. As the chicks emerged from their shells, they locked eyes with an unusual but dedicated mother.

"My Life as a Turkey" is a television episode that premiered in 2011 in the UK on BBC (season 30 of the series Natural World, August 1) and aired on US public broadcasting (season 30 of the series Nature, November 16)

IMBd link
posted by mightshould (9 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I've seen this before, and it has the best ever "where are they now" caption at the end of the film just before the credits roll.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 11:19 AM on December 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I saw this on Nature several years ago as well. It's touching and sad and fascinating. Even though everything is a re-creation, it felt quite genuine to the events. Worth watching if you have the PBS streaming app.
posted by briank at 11:40 AM on December 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

This was recently re-run on Nature, and worth watching again. A lovely story of a truly gentle man, and his love for wild turkeys. Where I live was semi-rural when I was a child, is now heartless suburban sprawl. So many people are afraid or disgusted by the turkeys and other wildlife that still come out of the few woods left, but I love them all, even the pesty ones. It is their world too; we are the ones destroying it.
posted by mermayd at 1:22 PM on December 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

I loved this but I am so confused about how they recreated it!
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:59 PM on December 1, 2021

I have written about the joys and heartbreaks of living with turkeys before. It's now been a few years since I last had gobblers running around the yard, and I miss them terribly. The mama turkey would sit on the nest day and night, taking few breaks (and being spelled by another hen. I do not know how they managed the workload, but somehow the clear agreement was that eggs should never be left to cool, unprotected.). Because I am impatient, I would try to get a peek under her and often had a second of two when I could lift her breast up a little and look underneath. and that feeling--that little pocket of downy warmth--would last until she'd take a swipe at my hand with her extremely sharp beak, hissing and all but saying "GET OFF MY EGGS." And so I'd wait. One day, a speckled egg would appear a few inches away from mama, and if I were quick and careful, I could hold it to my ear and hear a muffled tap every few seconds, and watch a bit of shell fall away from the white interior of the egg. Somewhere I have a photo of an egg, partially broken, and a slimy poult still curled inside, tired of trying to emerge. I have my own kids--and somewhere back in the house, they were probably waiting for me to make breakfast. Instead I'd be out at the coop, holding a little miracle, peeling bits of shell away from a newborn. I say newborn, but I mean a sulfur-stinky, slimy, exhausted little thing with feathers, big oval head bobbling uncertainly--mama having gone for a little walk at this point, to let her brood hatch in peace--and how could I not tuck that poult into my shirt until it was dry and rested? (The dog, meanwhile, jumping up in jealousy, trying to figure out if I was hiding a snack from him.) I'd help the ones that needed it, returning them in an hour or two. But for those hours, I was safe passage into the new. Months later, I'd run tractors over the pasture, moving a hoop-covered cage to a new patch of grass every day. Sometimes when I'd go in to change the food or water, I'd squat down and spread my arms out, and God as my witness, the no-longer-little birds would hop on my arms and try to groom my hair. I miss the strangeness of that closeness, and living so close to that alien intelligence. My turkeys, ah, my turkeys. Let me tell you about them.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:30 PM on December 1, 2021 [21 favorites]

My cats LOVE this show. We watch it every year for Thanksgiving when my local PBS shows a Nature marathon of the turkey show, the deer show, and the duck show.
posted by jenjenc at 4:20 PM on December 1, 2021 [5 favorites]

" So many people are afraid or disgusted by the turkeys and other wildlife that still come out of the few woods left"

Man, what the heck, wild turkeys are CHARMING, and I have never had one try to kill me, unlike some Canada geese I could mention. You walk too near a tom turkey's harem, and he'll gobble at you or rumble at you and spread his marvelous tail to warn you off the hens pecking through the leaf litter for nuts and berries, and watch you with suspicious eyes until you move along. You glance wrong at a Canada goose near your driveway, and you have to move to a different state because now they live in your house but remain pissed.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:51 PM on December 1, 2021 [7 favorites]

"...the joys and heartbreaks of living with turkeys..."

I can confirm. My wife and I raised a wild turkey (and her domestic friend) from an egg and it was such an amazing experience. I can still recall the "lost turkey baby" call, it's a useful way for my wife and I to find each other in a crowd.

We fell in love with the Turks so much that we no longer eat turkey. We had chickens as well, but chickens are jerks so we still eat them! I still miss Lucky and Big Ange, but we get huge flocks of 30-40 Turks walking by in the morning and that helps a little...
posted by schyler523 at 12:47 PM on December 3, 2021 [4 favorites]

You glance wrong at a Canada goose near your driveway, and you have to move to a different state because now they live in your house but remain pissed.

Lions is lucky Canada gooses don't migrates t'Africa. Then they'd be's extinct.
posted by flabdablet at 2:15 PM on December 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

« Older David   |   if human: kill() Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments