Wild Turkey, Central Park


Wild Turkey at Maintenance area

An hour after sunset on Thursday, April 20 eBird relayed the report, with photos, of a Wild Turkey at the north end of Central Park, by a stream known as the Loch. I immediately tweeted the report to followers of Manhattan Bird Alert. The bird was said to be lingering at the Loch, flying back and forth over it, and allowing close approach from people. None of this is surprising for a Wild Turkey, but it is odd that no regular birders were there, at a recently very popular warbler spot, to observe and report it in real time.

It rained over Thursday night, during which time the turkey presumably would have roosted in a tall, nearby tree.

On Friday morning the search was on, with birders (including me) scouring the Loch and nearby North Woods\. The latter would make excellent turkey habitat and would have few people to disturb it. None of us found it that morning, nor was it reported elsewhere in the park. How could a large, conspicuous bird, one that moves around mostly by walking, suddenly disappear?

Then at 6:33 that evening a new lead emerged: an eBird report by a Brooklyn birder of Wild Turkey earlier that afternoon at Turtle Pond. Was I being pranked? The Ramble had many birders active in the afternoon who would have issued text alerts had they seen it, and Turtle Pond receives a huge amount of foot traffic.

I ran to Turtle Pond to investigate. Since it was getting late, I checked the trees, too, for a possible roosting bird. Still no turkey.

I figured that nearby Tupelo Meadow would be a pleasant spot for a Wild Turkey, so I checked there. Maintenance Meadow would be also make a quiet foraging spot, but again, no bird.

Then I saw it, a large, dark blob walking slowly aside the paved path immediately east of the Maintenance tool shed:


This Wild Turkey was the first documented appearance of the species in Central Park since January 2009, and the first for me in the park.

It remained in Central Park yesterday (Saturday), ending up in the Cherry Hill and Falconer’s Hill areas after appearing early in the east section of the Ramble.

Today (Sunday, April 23) it was spotted on a lawn at the extreme southwest corner of the park near Columbus Circle.