Peggy Keener: Do not run afowl this Thanksgiving

Published 5:45 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Oh, dear! I fear a grave mistake is being made right under our noses. Lately a number of folks have come to our door asking for a free holiday turkey. We feel bad when we send them away. You see, we’re pretty darned sure we don’t have what they want.

The problem is this. Folks are confused. Our backyard is not where they’ll find the traditional Jim’s Market turkey. Our birds are the Turtle Creek variety that hang out in dead trees, loitering all day, everyday like feathered street gangs. They’re not called Butterball. They’re called Vulture. Turkey Vulture!

We have counted over twenty of these ill-bred, aberrant creatures in our tree at one time. What’s more, what gives us the nervous creeps is that they seem to be eyeing us with their ravenous beady eyes—their wattles trembling with lust. It detracts from our joy of living.

To my knowledge there has never been a scientific comparison study of the two birds. This unfortunate lack has led to group bewilderment. Therefore, I will now share what knowledge I have gleaned in simply observing the two birds. And from the get go, know that just because they both have turkey in their names does not mean that both are appropriate holiday fare on your Thanksgiving table. Au contrarie!

1. Your first clue is their names. Butterball? Vulture? Does one have a more delicious ring to it than the other? Observe also that the pronunciation is way different, as is the spelling. These are important hints for you to remember.

2. Turkey Vultures are homeless whereas Butterballs loll around all day in warm cozy barns. They don’t even have to find their own food as trained farmer/waiters serve them. Vultures, on the other hand, are on their own with their taste buds leaning towards road kill.

3. Butterballs have names. Every last one of the males is called”Tom”. In contrast, I do not know of a single Vulture with a proper name, male or female. Therefore, I’m thinking names are not that important to them. As long as a vulture can find a flattened squirrel it’s happy.

4. Neither one of these turkeys is what you would describe as either foul or fowl mouthed. One thing is crystal clear though, there is no question that Butterballs are linguistically superior to Vultures. How do I know? Well, just listen to them. Butterballs can say,”Gobble.” The more erudite among them even say,”Gobble, gobble.” Vultures, on the other hand are uncommonly quiet. They have to be because being noisy would be a big no no when they’re out vulturing. Also, Vultures are not particularly musical, whereas Butterballs enjoy group sing-alongs. In this case they add, for effect, an extra gobble–”Gobble, gobble, gobble” in monotone turkey harmony. This is always strictly performed faccapella.

5. Butterballs are known to be voluptuously full figured. Dare I say”buxom?” Vultures are just the opposite: flat chested. Training bras are lost on them.

6. Neither bird’s appearance is what you’d describe as”precious.” This is mainly due to the unlovely and totally unnecessary snood that lies flaccidly dormant across the Butterball beaks and the crimson crepey head skin on the Vultures. Both are overkill in the accessories department, if you ask me. And just because their snoods and heads are red, does not mean they win points in the world of haute couture. These embellishments serve no purpose other than to look silly and ostentatious. I personally do not care for them.

7. The wings on Butterballs are humiliating. Beyond pitiful. They barely flap and they lack any kind of lift-off potential. In their absence, Butterballs waddle around in their special barns bumping into each other. Vultures, on the other hand, are masters of aerobatics. Soaring is their best talent. They are kings of the sky; to watch them is poetry in motion. It’s a rotten shame they’re otherwise so darned ugly.

8. Butterballs never get to go anywhere. They do not have a summer vacation or take delight in a trip to Mall of America. Vultures travel. They migrate. All the way from Turtle Creek to South and Central America. I’m not sure if Vultures need to be bi-lingual to do this or even if passports are required. But, it’s such a wasteful crying shame that Butterballs don’t travel. Just think. For them it would be so cinchy because they’d never have to worry about language.”Gobble” is pretty much universally understood.

9. Butterballs make delicious sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving. This is not true of Vultures. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say,”Does anyone want a Vulture sandwich?”

10. If someone called me”Butterball,” I’d be offended. Chubby Butterballs are not because they’re used to it. (Well, that and half of them being called Tom.) In a sinister sort of way, Vultures really like their name. They think it makes them tough guy, Marlon Brando macho. I would agree.

11. Neither bird goes to school, has a library card, rides a bicycle, votes, knits or plays the tuba. I’m not sure if they get married or simply live in sin.

12. Vultures have an obsession with their wings. They love to full furl them. They’re seven-plus feet across! It begs the question of why they do this? I think it’s a kind of virility thing to see how far they can spread them and then how long they can stay in that outstretched position. In order to do this, Vultures need to have an inbred sense of space for they each take up a lot of room. Dead tree branches only have a finite amount of space. Vultures hog all of it disallowing any perch berths for other birds. It’s a rude and selfish habit; the epitome of showing off. You would never ever find a Butterball behaving so in-your-face. They just lie in dormant stacks in grocery store freezers, giving all passersby the cold shoulder.

13. Hands down, the most peculiar and downright disturbing thing that Butterballs do is store — inside their cavities — their own organs! These come wrapped in convenient little bags. Vultures would never dream of defiling their innards in this macabre manner. It’s simply not done. Personally, we are in agreement here. I am offended by these organ packages, the absolute worst being the Butterball neck. Why, oh, why did anyone ever think it would be adorable to gift wrap a bare naked neck and stuff it back into the bird? Perverted.

So, there you have it. My turkey tutorial is ended. Study my words and make your own decision. Butterball or Vulture? The choice is as old as time itself.

Happy Turkey (choose one) Butterball or Vulture Day!