Strange animal behavior: Turkeys circle around dead cat

Why are these turkeys circling around a dead cat?

This bizarre scene featuring a group of wild turkeys marching in a circle around a dead cat was shot in Massachusetts on March 2, 2017.

What is this weird scene, a ritual?

A scientist explains: “In all likelihood, the turkeys are less pagan and more paranoid… The turkeys’ behavior to a combination of curiosity and fear. My guess is they are puzzled by the strange behavior of the dead or dying cat [and wanted] to get a better look, without getting too close. This resulted in a circle of turkeys—mostly females—all eyeing the potential predator’s carcass, but none of them wanting to get any closer.

Similar behavior was reported in birds of the family Phasianidae, which includes turkeys, pheasants, and chickens. In these birds, individuals chase after the tails of those in front of them, as a way to keep a flock together.

And there’s nothing unusual about wild turkeys grouping together: In the fall and winter, the large birds gather in flocks of hundreds or more.

Wid turkeys have died out in Massachusetts. As of 2014, 140 years after they died out in the state, about 30,000 wild turkeys call Massachusetts home.

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