A turkey is a turkey is a turkey, or so it has been said. But there is one very handsome pet bird recently discovered on Whidbey Island in the country north of Oak Harbor, Washington. No, his name is not very original, but Thomas struts his stuff secure in the knowledge that he will not make an appearance on a Thanksgiving table come Thursday, November 26th.
Thomas is a Bourbon Red breed of domestic turkey so named for its individual red-like feathers and specifically for Bourbon County, Kentucky. The grown toms (males) can weigh up to thirty-three pounds and mature hens (females) can reach twenty-three pounds. Also known as Kentucky Reds and Bourbon Butternuts, the breed was originally from Kentucky and Pennsylvania in the late 19th century. Tom meets his breed standard which is “characterized by a soft red band and white flight feathers with tail and wing feathers with chestnut coverts”. The Livestock Conservancy states “There are fewer than 5,000 breeding birds in the U.S.”. Tom is a rescued bird.
Tom the Turkey lives among many other rescued pets on an idyllic nameless farm that houses three horses from Southern California; a jet black Mustang, an Arabian and an Off-Track Thoroughbred. Twelve Alpacas, including a baby born this past June (and one named Pilgrim) call the farm home. They are joined by five very vocal geese and two roosters and several chickens, all which keep Thomas company. And a wild black and white spotted female rabbit hops boldly about during feeding time. Rounding up the crew are six dogs and four cats; four of the latter are named Wyatt Earp, Hatfield and McCoy and Miss Kitty. Thomas socializes with all of them. There were several goats and three rabbits but they were donated to a nearby Shetland Pony farm equipped with a Petting Zoo.
Thomas does not keep to his pen. Whenever there is a chance to converse with a human, he steps out and approaches the individuals. If he is getting a lot of attention, he will fan his tail feathers and make a drumming noise as he does so. He will come toe to toe with the visitors and occasionally gargles a welcome “gobble gobble”. He does not appreciate being imitated, although several people have tried to accomplish this task. He allows himself to be picked up by his owners. Although this activity does relinquish some of his dignity, he does not object to it.
Another favorite pastime is coming to the farm house and admiring himself in the many windows. He has been known to start this at 5:00 in the morning and after trying to enter the house, will continue his serenade until twilight. He is, without a doubt, the star attraction of the farm and affords much enjoyment to its residents. And, come Thanksgiving Day, Tom will be the one getting special treats!