The first bird stood in the road and shook its feathers on a Thursday afternoon in October before the next four emerged.
These five gobblers made a proper flock as they clicked, purred and roamed through a Point Richmond neighborhood en route to their next meal, which could have included berries, roots, insects, small reptiles or amphibians.
When the flock reached a dead end, the exalted “birds of courage” — as Benjamin Franklin once dubbed them — provided a visual metaphor of the shortages and supply chain issues leaving Bay Area residents and Americans scrambling to put enough food on their tables this Thanksgiving.
A flock of wild turkeys walk with caution on a dead end street in the Point Richmond neighborhood in Richmond, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. Thanksgiving cooks may have a hard time finding the traditional main course this year; the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported a shortage of birds due to supply-chain issues. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
We are the hungry turkeys coming up short in our search for animal-based protein this holiday as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 13.6% jump in meat, fish, poultry and egg prices year-over-year and Bay Area food banks report more precise spikes in the past three months.
Photos: Thanksgiving giveaway at San Jose’s Sacred Heart Community Service
‘Tranquil’ Thanksgiving weather for most of the country
At-home COVID tests: How to find and use one in the Bay Area over the Thanksgiving holiday
The 5 most infamous mishaps from the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade
Thanksgiving traffic: The Bay Area’s best and worst times to hit the road
But it’s not like hunting the hungry Bay Area fowl at the end of that road in Point Richmond would be an option for just anyone: Would-be hunters need a permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to hunt the largest game birds in North America for the season, which lasts through Dec. 26. Even then, hunters can only kill three of the male urban pests daily after the first two days of the season.
California introduced the turkeys to the environment throughout the last century primarily to be hunted. The winged transplants — native to the Texas Hill Country near San Antonio and Austin and known as Rio Grande wild turkeys — defecate on patios and decks, destroy flowers and vegetable gardens and roost, or sleep, on cars across approximately 20% of state land. They might even be “threatening local ecosystems,” depending on who you ask and which study you read.
A flock of wild turkeys roam around the Point Richmond neighborhood in Richmond, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
To learn more, check out the state’s Guide To Hunting Wild Turkey, complete with an anatomical diagram so readers can sort a caruncle from a dewlap and a rump from a snood. And while California’s wild turkeys can be safe to eat, before sticking a fork in one, consider that the birds never asked to be brought here.