Friday, March 29, 2013

Man About Town

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 4:08 PM

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Jack Lincoln is one of the latest strutting habitués of the brick sidewalk in front of Old Town Coffee & Chocolates, in Eureka. Handsome, too: blue head, changeable neck -- it goes creamy white when he's content, says his person, Nick, and red when he's excited (equally with anger, happiness or lust).

On this sunny afternoon, Jack, an 11-month-old Rio Grande wild turkey, was participating in a strange feather-shaking dance with passersby. One man decided to cha-cha-cha with Jack, and around and around they stamped and shivered their butts, eyeing each other with ceremony.

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With every tail shake came, insisted Nick, a "bonnnngggg" sound, a bass wave, issuing from Jack's belly and booming out the dish-like spread of his tail.

"It's a sign of health," Nick said. 

It's a sign that Jack thinks all the two-leggeds around him are an extension of his turkey tribe.

After dancing with the man, Jack repeatedly sidled up to a woman in a short green dress and green rubber boots. She cut a few tight circles with the bird, then left. Next he sidled up repeatedly to woman in black pants and brown leather boots, and finally pecked her left leg softly then reared up to hump it.

Nick pulled Jack away, several times, picked him up and cuddled his feathery bulk. Put him down. The sidling and humping resumed.

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He's named, Nick said, after the turkey whom President Abe Lincoln granted a reprieve from slaughter for the family's holiday meal after Lincoln's boy Tad cried to spare him.

Nick has eight other turkeys; sometimes he'll herd them in a group about town. And they all, in a sense, are pardoned birds. They won't be slaughtered for eating. In fact, it is Nick's wish to develop a domesticated house turkey breed, one that can be house-trained and, presumably, taught some general pet-like manners and mores.

Now, though, he's got a more pressing problem.

"I have 30 eggs I have to either incubate, sell or eat," he said.

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Speaking of Curiosities, Birds


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Heidi Walters

Heidi Walters worked as a staff writer at the North Coast Journal from 2005 to 2015.

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