September–October 2023

Young Naturalists

Wild Neighbors

A creature of woodlands, the wild turkey now lives across much of Minnesota, including in towns and cities.

Christine Petersen

It’s a warm late-September evening in Minneapolis, perfect for a stroll. I head out the door and soon find myself on a winding path between the Mississippi River and tall buildings on the University of Minnesota campus. College students are hammocking in trees nearby. Others kick back on the still-green grass with textbooks in their laps or gather to toss a frisbee with friends. And right in the middle of it all stands a flock of wild turkeys. 

The big birds look pretty relaxed, like any other group enjoying a bit of downtime. A few students raise their phones to take pictures, but most ignore the large wild animals wandering across the parkway. The turkeys stop here and there to peck at the grass or gaze around. Then, as sunset approaches, they turn toward the river and disappear among the trees.

I turn too, finishing my walk as daylight fades. I think about wild turkeys with every step. What are the secrets of their survival, and have they always lived so close to people?

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