Thanksgiving is Turkey Day for me. That is to say, a day to be thankful for turkeys rather than eat them. A bird so strange that it’s beautiful and too amazing to be subjected to a short life in a factory farm. Most people have never met a turkey, but you’d be in a position to agree with me if you have.

Meet Dale and Daphne, the two turkeys who live at Maple Farm Sanctuary in Mendon, MA. To look at Dale – his stark white coloring with a burst of red & blue and the black “beard” on his chest – you begin to understand how unique these birds can be. Their story begins in 2009, when Daphne was born on a farm that raised turkeys for slaughter, to be eaten. She suffered from a foot deformity, which might be the one thing that saved her. Noticing her handicap, a sympathetic worker took her home. He quickly noticed that Daphne was lonely and brought home a second turkey, who would become known as Dale, as a companion. When they became too big to keep at home, the worker brought them to MFS. Now, Dale acts as ambassador to the farm’s visitors as he struts about and plays “town crier.” His world revolves around his mate, Daphne. Her deformity resigns her to their coop, which Dale never strays far from.

As part of Maple Farm Sanctuary’s tour program that Laurie has been organizing, she decided to do a special one for Thanksgiving. Visitors were invited to meet rather than eat a Turkey. In honor of the event, Dale & Daphne’s favorite meal was prepared – a pumpkin pie with cranberries & romaine lettuce! Dale is picky about who he eats in front of, but Daphne didn’t waste any time getting down to business. Tiny squeaks of delight could be heard in-between bites.

I consider myself an open-minded animal lover, but even I originally had prejudices against this bird. “They probably aren’t that smart, they’re kinda ugly, and I doubt they want anything to do with people.” Dale shattered those stereotypes. Like many birds, turkeys are more intelligent than popular myths would lead us to believe. Note in the video below how Dale mimics “gobble-gobble” when it’s said to him, just the way a parrot would. Turkeys also enjoy being pet and thrive on attention. I can’t imagine why the taste of this animal would convince anyone why it’s okay to take its life.

When preparing this post, I found out about Karen Dawn and her efforts to educate people about turkeys. Do yourself a favor and watch this – it’s a big part of why I chose to feature turkeys. The video makes one realize that maybe there’s a part of the world you haven’t seen before. She expresses their plight much better than I can and the clips she includes are very compelling.

A big, big Thank You to Laurie for these terrific photos and a MFS visitor for the one of Laurie. Thanks to Jim & Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis for providing a safe home for Dale, Daphne, and all the other beautiful animals we get to interact with at MFS. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!