Is this turkey hitchhiking? Photo copyright by Ambience Photography
Well, no. Actually, this turkey is "strutting" the shuttle bus in Zion National Park. It's giving a courtship display, like a tom turkey would do to another male or to a female. It seems that the turkeys in Zion aren't very bright, or rather overdosed with testosterone. This turkey would be a candidate for a Darwin award, if the drivers weren't so considerate.
Turkey hit by car, driver unconscious
It's well-known that millions of dollars in damage are done every year when autos hit deer on the highway. This happened to me some years ago--I hit the deer with my left front fender, as I cruised along at 60 mph. The impact caused the dear to rotate in the air, so that it then slammed into the side of my car. Double damage. The windshield shattered--there was glass everywhere, even in my mouth. Luckily, I was wearilng glasses, keeping the shards out of my eyes. Although I figure the antlers came within a few inches of my head, I wasn't injured.
But it's not so common for turkeys to hit cars. I was driving in central Wisconsin on a county road, again about 55 or 60 mph. A VW bug was driving not far ahead of me. Suddenly, a turkey flushed from the side of the road, and crossed in front of the VW. The turkey went down, and the VW went off the road to the left. When we stopped, there was no sign of motion in the VW--no one got out of the car. On closer approach, we saw a woman slumped over in the driver's seat. The windshield was cracked, and there was turkey-sized dent above the driver, where the top of the car and the upper frame of the windshield were pushed in several inches. I figured that, on impact, the driver had been thrown forward, and at the same time the dent pushed back, hitting the driver's head. Knocked out by a tom turkey.
We called an ambulance, and while others cared for the woman, I looked for the turkey. I found him nearby, dead in the tall grass. He was a beautiful, large male--with dark, iridescent feathers, and a colorful neck and head as in the photo above.