Mutant turkeys and giving a hoot…

In 1995, birds were making news in New Mexico.

In the first instance, several emus were released (either accidentally or intentionally) in the Gila National Forest and were spotted multiple times running wild. One observer reported to authorities that he had seen “a really big turkey.” If it had been spotted further east in the Lincoln National Forest, some might have thought it was a mutant “down-winder” turkey that was transmogrified by  fallout from the 1945 atomic bomb test at Trinity Site.

At any rate, authorities became concerned that the birds might be a traffic hazard from people slowing down on highways to gawk at the critters. The newspaper article about the renegade emus never said if they were all eventually tracked down. Maybe they’re still up there, spooking the other native animals in the Gila. But for all my trips to the Gila over the years, I can verify that I have not seen one — yet. 

Emu or mutant down-winder turkey?

The other bird story from 1995 involved a trucker who smacked something large while driving in the vicinity of Espanola. When he spotted what he had hit, he removed a large portion of the grille from his truck and drove immediately to a veterinarian in Espanola. At the vet’s office, a rather dazed but still living owl was extricated from the innards of the front of the truck and released. 

I guess the driver preferred having a goose-like “honk” emanating from his truck instead of a “hoot.” (Okay, that was bad — it’s late in the day)

Changing your “honk” to a “hoot.”

Speaking of owls, that reminded me of a story about five years ago in which a family of burrowing owls had taken up residence at the Aggie Memorial Stadium on the campus of New Mexico State University. Because the owls were considered threatened or endangered, crews planning to install artificial turf at the football stadium were forced to put the project on hold while the birds could be relocated. 

Standing on spindly legs, always looking angry and cocking their heads, burrowing owls were not happy about having to be relocated from the Aggie Memorial Stadium

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