They are perhaps the University’s most notorious residents, but they don’t pay room or board.
They prefer the fields to Barone and the trees to Dolan Hall.
OK, we’re talking about turkeys here.
The FU Turkeys, which are best known for obstructing traffic, are like Fairfield celebrities. They even have their own Twitter account called @FUturkeys.
When @FUturkeys found out I was writing this column, they tweeted, “This better not be some Thanksgiving propaganda.”
@FUturkeys: It is not. I’ll only mention Thanksgiving once after this.
This is a story about how and why a bird that almost became locally extinct arrived on campus.
Turkeys were reintroduced into New England in the 1970s, but it took a while for them to arrive in populated areas.
“The urban turkey thing is fairly new,” Dr. Tod Osier, associate professor of biology, said from behind the desk in his Bannow office, which, props to him, had a copy of The Mirror on it. “It’s the past 10, 15 years where they’ve been turkeys using suburban, urban areas effectively.”
The Fairfield campus provides the perfect environment for the turkeys, according to Osier. The birds likes open fields covered with trees, not dense forests where predators can lurk.
While coyotes and foxes hunt turkeys, you won’t likely find them on campus. They are incredibly scared of people unlike the turkeys they seek, who are just wary of humans.
But we all know that turkeys are not wary of one thing in their environment – cars. How do they see them?
“Like a moving rock,” Osier said.
That’s how Henrietta must have seen them.
Henrietta was the name given to a bird that frequently blocked the beach access road in my hometown. She started getting really aggressive, chasing people.
Eventually the state provided her with relocation services. She no longer resides at the beach.
While some turkeys, like Henrietta, can appear aggressive, they pose no real threat to humans.
“There’s not a person that can’t defend itself from a turkey,” Osier said.
Yet you can dress to avoid turkeys. Don’t wear red as that color triggers turkey aggression.
For the record, I have never been chased by a turkey. When I see them, I tend to go around them, even if that means walking far out of my way.
Getting chased by a turkey is not on my Fairfield bucket list, but since they’re such an icon maybe it should be.
I would probably have a more negative opinion of these lovely creatures had one pursued me. None have, so I can still think they add more to the campus than they take away.
They are a living symbol of the fall, Thanksgiving and New England – that’s their aesthetic value, Osier told me. You can’t think of November without turkeys.
And if you’re a Fairfield student – which you probably are since you’re reading The Mirror – you can’t think about our campus without thinking of them either.
Love them or hate them, the turkey has become a part of Fairfield. Yes, they may be annoying, obnoxious at times, but that’s the way they evolved. Perhaps they’ll be less annoying in a few thousand years, but for now we should appreciate them for what they are – part of our diverse campus.
It would be nice, however, if they refrained from causing traffic jams every now and then.