Monday, September 15, 2008

Life in the Big City

This little guy was outside my bedroom window, on the fire escape. Keep in mind that I live in a fifth floor walk-up. In Harlem. Yes there are parks two blocks away, and a few trees between here and there, but most of the surroundings is brick, concrete and tarmac. I think this is a grasshopper, but maybe it's some kind of locust. The latter would make a bit more sense, I suppose, though if it is, it got separated from the ravening hordes.




But this isn't even the best recent sighting. I headed down to Battery Park yesterday to catch an outdoor performance of Kinesis Project. I had only just left the South Ferry terminal when I met this fellow strutting along.
I approached him gingerly, assuming he (she?) would be easily spooked, but while he clearly lost interest in chatting once it became clear I had no food, he also didn't seem particularly perturbed by me, or any of the other gazillion people in the area. This is the park where one can catch a ferry to Staten Island, the Statue of Liberty, or Ellis Island, so the place is crawling with tourists, especially on a sunny Sunday in late Summer.
I took these photos close to a huge memorial to Navy veterans, so I began to wonder if this bird was the spirit of Ben Franklin, still campaigning for the wild turkey to be our national bird. He thought the bald eagle was a poor choice, since it's basically a scavenger. Wild turkeys, according to ole Ben, are clever, resilient birds, and would have made a much more appropriate national symbol.
Needless to say, his idea never really caught on with the larger public. I'm sure I'm not doing justice to his argument.
Obviously this isn't a wild turkey, and my understanding is the domestic ones are dumber than a box of hammers (I guess that blows my spirit of Ben Franklin theory), but I found this fellow rather jaunty. I haven't the slightest idea what he was doing there. Melissa has seen him in the area before though. This would suggest that he isn't some eccentric Wall St millionaire's pet, or a lost farm exhibit. He's just a turkey, living in Battery Park.
Sometimes I really love New York.

11 comments:

Butch said...

From locusts to turkeys, loved it!

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Well with no crops and mostly concrete around, maybe that is your local locust horde.

Not sure about the turkey but he/she is the same colour of the wild turkeys around my parents place in the country. True the wild ones are really really smart and can fly like you would not believe, however the tame ones are as dumb as house plants. The wild ones often move into towns and cities where people feed them and will not harm them, a domestic one would probably not last long as it would more than likely step in front of a car and get smushed. Maybe someone had a wild one as a pet and then let it go in the park. Lets hope he/she makes it through thanksgiving! ;)

Java said...

I think the turkey is a hen. I think. Looks that way to me from the tail feathers. I could tell more easily if I saw the head/neck region.

I wonder if your locust/grasshopper is any relation to the cricket in Times Square?

Was looking at apartment listings in Manhattan tonight, just for kicks and giggles. Interesting variety of quality and price. I suppose one could make do in Battery Park for at least a little while.

Brian said...

I love seeing odd, unexpected animals in New York. There are turkeys in Fort Tryon Park as well, we used to see them in the bushes during rehearsals.

Birdie said...

The domestic turkeys we eat are white—blondes with big breasts. And yes, they're really dumb, fulfilling the stereotype. I guess this one is a domesticated wild turkey.

It does seem out of place to find wildlife in the middle of New York. But there's an entire blog dedicated to Pale Male, a redtail hawk in Central Park, and his offspring.

Eric said...

Patrick this is, indeed, a wild turkey. Albeit one which has obviously become quite used to human contact. So maybe it's not "wild" in the strictest sense, but it's still the same breed.

Greg said...

I would venture he is a wild urban turkey, hip to life in the Big CIty and happy, like so many, to make his living from the tourist trade.

Quite a brilliant guest star for today's post, that's for sure. It takes all kinds to make the big city hum.

And the grasshopper guy, yes, I would imagine he is some distant cousin of Chester's, perhaps come to town for a look around. Are there any community gardens/veggie patches nearby? Beautiful ironwork on your fire escape!

Jess said...

If you find the turkey perched outside your bedroom window, that will be something! ;)

I've actually been impressed with the diversity of wildlife that manages to make a home in Manhattan. And out this way, we have quite a range of creatures living their lives. It's really wonderful!

Ben said...

Cool sightings. BTW, did you know that the official bird of France is le Coq? I know that when I think of France, I think of cocks....

Melissa said...

I was so happy when you said you saw our little BP Turkey Patrick! Last year when I saw him I was so concerned for his safety (what if he tries to get on the train! or goes wandering through the financial district! what if a chef finds out he's here and chases after him with a turkey killing machete or whatever wild NYC chefs run around with for their game hunting...) and though I wondered if I was blowing it out of proportion still called 311 (damn I'm a good citizen) and reported the sighting of him - a few moments after hanging up with a city employee who was giggling (although did actually take it seriously) at my sighting - I found out from an area cop that the Parks folks actually do take care of him and that he's been there for a long time and "Oh geez, Miss. Oh, well, now they have to come down and check... He's fine, the Parks folks here take good care of him. I wish I had a life like that Turkey!"
Proof I think that he/she is a wild and quite intelligent turkey.

oscar said...

Imagine that! In NYC! Well, I believe that Thanksgiving isn't that far away, so maybe you should come back in a couple of months. ;-(
Now that WAS a bad joke... Sorry...

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