Are turkeys so stupid they will look up in the sky when it rains and drown?
Dear Cecil:

You failed to mention that humans can easily act in a similar manner to those turkeys when in a pressuring situation. I remember seeing on the news once; a fire started in this building where the maximum fire safety limit was way over, and when people were trying to get out of the doorway, the ones who fell to the floor were crushed and suffocated, and the doorways were eventually blocked with piles of bodies. Which is creepy…until you compare them to turkeys. Then you can laugh, right? Damn, I think I spoiled the cheerful mood. D=

Do you have some issue with Cecil? Welcome to the SDMB and all, but if your initial posts are any indication of who you are as a poster, you will not get to pet the squid and you better have plenty of pie.

SSG Schwartz

anarchist Welcome to the SDMB.
I can say based on what I have seen humans have it all over turkeys in the smarts department.
Turkeys are a fine bird, and great eating, but not exactly what I would call gifted when it comes to smarts. A bunch turkeys will mill around until one of them gets the bright idea to go over there. Every other turkey in the bunch will follow.
I once observed a fire on a turkey farm. One of the turkey barns was on fire, the turkeys were milling around in the yard. Then one of them decided to go back into the barn. All of the turkeys would follow and about 100 turkeys would disappear into the burning barn. A short while later one would come out followed by all of the others. One or two of the turkeys would have smoke coming from their feathers where burning embers had started their feathers on fire. They would walk around in the group smoking away until they just fell over dead.
Then one of the turkey would think it was a good idea to run back into the barn, and all the rest would follow. Lather rinse repeat.
Turkeys is dumb.

You must have ate turkey sandwiches for weeks

Mmmm, smoked turkey breast.

Are wild turkeys also this dumb? IIRC they can even fly pretty well and must at least have some smarts to avoid predators. And knowing how entirely delicious and succulent turkey is, their predators must be many.

Supposedly Benjamin Franklin wanted to make it the national bird, instead of the eagle.

Domesticated turkeys aren’t unable to fly because they’re stupid (although they indeed are), but because they’re bred for enormous breasts that make them so heavy they can’t lift off. (In fact, it makes them so heavy they’re unable to breed without human intervention; sad, no?)

Mmmmm, enormous breasts.

Added note: Rainfall in the aftermath of Hurricane Camille was said to be so heavy that birds perched in trees drowned (due to the anatomy of upturned bird nostrils):

“Some areas reported 31 inches of rain in just 6 hours resulting in extreme flooding that killed 109. It was said to rain so hard that birds drowned while perched on tree branches.”

I’m not sure if anyone actually performed bird autopsies to confirm this.

Turkeys are flock animals; their instinct is that safety is staying with the flock. The same is true of herd animals, like horses & cows – they are also known to run back inside the burning barn. Thus we always had a lead rope on the front of every single stall, so that in case of a fire we could lead them out and tie them down to a fence or something.

That ‘stay with the group’ instinct evolved in the wild, and was effective. But in the wild, they weren’t trained to go inside barns that sometimes catch on fire. It’s because of our domestication of these animals that some of their instincts now seem dumb.

That’s still an open question, after all. Turkeys have survived a few hundred thousand years longer than humans, remember.

Yes you are correct that they are herd animals. Having the herd run back into the barn isn’t zactly the smartest thing in the world, wouldn’t you agree? Also I doubt that humans would do that, thus giving the edge in the smarts department to the humans.
Two other data points you might consider
My daughter worked as an intern for Zacky Farms (A major California turkey producer) When they put the baby birds in the barn, they have to put colored stones in the water, otherwise the birds won’t drink. The other data point is that the barns have canvas sides that get rolled up in warm weather. if a wild male wanders by a barn full of female turkeys he will just stand there with a oh my god looks at the boobs on those girls look, and the ranch hands can walk right up and grab one for slaughter and dinner. I do have to admit I have seen a few 18 year old boys with a similar look. :wink:

I was told that horses will run into a fire because their instinct is to run *through * the fire. In a prairie fire that would make sense. I have never heard of cattle doing the same thing, though.

As for turkeys, most domestic fowl are very stupid, they have been bred to be stupid.