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Butters 2.0? Montreal Has Another Wild Turkey & More Could Be On The Way

The internet has yet to come up with a snappy name for this latest bird but suggestions include Butters Jr., Butters 2.0, Margarine, Ghee and I Can't Believe It's Not Butters.

Contributing Writer
Wild turkey roaming Montreal's NDG neighbourhood.

Wild turkey roaming Montreal's NDG neighbourhood.

Courtesy of Dannielle Dyson

Butters, a wild turkey whose impressive strut, handsome plumage and fearless personality transformed him into a social media sensation, died last year after being struck by a car.

The bird's rare presence garnered it hundreds of followers on Facebook and a thriving community of pandemic-weary Montrealers who chronicled his adventures across different parts of the city.

But if you shed a few tears when you heard of his demise, you might find solace in learning that yet another turkey has been spotted in the borough of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

The internet has yet to come up with a snappy name for this latest bird but suggestions include Butters Jr., Butters 2.0, Margarine, Ghee, and I Can't Believe It's Not Butters.

I can't believe it's not Butters

Wild turkey roaming Montreal's NDG neighbourhood.Wild turkey roaming Montreal's NDG neighbourhood.Courtesy of Dannielle Dyson

NDG resident and self-professed bird-lover Dannielle Dyson spotted the turkey walking along avenue Montclair on April 9.

"Being of this generation, I took out my camera to document it, to share it," she said. "I was actually struck by the fact that it was alone and out of place, walking down the sidewalk toward Sherbrooke [street]."

Concerned for its safety, she and a neighbour escorted it across the street before it disappeared over a fence into an adjacent yard.

"I feel like there's a lot of wildlife around here," said Dyson. "We do have raccoons, of course. We have squirrels, skunks and groundhogs but that was a first, seeing a turkey."

Butters met his end on Jan. 29, 2021, at the intersection of Avenue Westminster and Chemin Côte-Saint-Luc, and Dyson hopes this bird does not meet the same fate.

"I think it's tragic about Butters the first," she said. "I mean, I don't think that'd be fun for any driver."

"I don't know if we need turkey crossing signs," she continued.

‘Definitely a female’

After examining photographs of the new NDG bird, Sheldon Harvey, vice president of Bird Protection Quebec, said it is "definitely a female."

How this particular turkey found its way into NDG is anybody's guess but in the bird world, we're into what's called "spring migration," he said. "A lot of the birds that don't stay here for the winter are on their way back, so we're just starting to see all kinds of different species arriving."

Turkeys are highly adaptable omnivores that feed on a wide variety of vegetation and grubs. In urban environments they might be drawn to gardens, bird feeders and unsecured trash cans, he said.

They prefer to get around by walking but can fly when necessary. "Like a C-130 aircraft, those big military carrier planes," said Harvey. "You look at them and you wonder how they ever get up off the ground. Well, that's similar to wild turkeys, they are very large birds."

More turkeys could be coming to a neighbourhood near you

Wild turkey roaming Montreal's NDG neighbourhood.Wild turkey roaming Montreal's NDG neighbourhood.Courtesy of Dannielle Dyson

Harvey said Montrealers could be seeing a lot more turkeys in the future.

That's because warmer winter weather in Quebec due to climate change is creating an opportunity for the birds — and other species — to move north.

"Birds were aware of climate change long before we ever were," he said.

"If you go back as little as five to 10 years ago, we had very few wild turkeys in southern Quebec," he continued. "When we used to go out on birdwatching trips, we would have to head down towards the U.S. border before we'd run into any territory where we might see turkeys."

A turkey was recently spotted in Ville-Émard and Harvey claims to have spotted a flock on Montreal's Île aux Hérons in the Saint Lawrence River on a recent birding expedition.

Other cold-sensitive bird species are also moving northward, he said, including the black vulture, "a bird that you used to have to get down past the Adirondacks in the U.S." to see.

In addition, the first recorded pair of nesting fish crows was spotted in the Eastern Townships last year, he said.

"It looks very similar to the crows that we have here, but it's a different species," said Harvey. "Normally its range was further south. Now it's starting to move further north as well."

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