Judging from the number of favorites and retweets, I bet a lot of people have seen the video of these turkeys circling around a dead cat. Even the Twitter user @TheReal_JDavis, who had stumbled upon this weird “ceremony”, was surprised. "Bro, this is wild," he says in the video.
This captured about 20 turkeys in the middle of a peaceful residential street holding some sort of vigil by continuously walking in a circle around a recently killed cat. But the question is “why are they doing this?” Or for the more baffled people, “what in the world are they doing?!”
A Harvard bird cognition expert, Irene Pepperberg (who mostly studies parrots) said that "it’s not totally uncommon for turkeys to circle things" but they are more likely to do it around objects like rocks and trees.
Moreover, Alan Krakauer, a biologist at the University of California, Davis, who studies the behavioral ecology of birds, might have a possible explanation: these turkeys could be performing what’s called a “predator inspection”. In an email to The Verge, he explained that preys (or those “low” animals in food chains) approach predators to 1) scare the predators away by making them notice that the prey knows it’s there and 2) help themselves (preys) by checking the scale of the predator’s determination to attack, enabling them to alert other vulnerable animals to the danger.
Thing is, the cat’s dead: a definite danger-free creature. Plus, turkeys don’t usually eat dead animals which means this isn’t some sort of ritual before eating a meal. Perhaps they’re just stuck in a never-ending circle, following the tail of what’s in front of them. Did they ever stop and if so, at what point did they just got tired of it? I don’t know.
“Maybe they are waiting to see if the cat wakes up?” Krakauer says. “Definitely amusing from a human perspective!” Still, no one has a definite explanation of what has happened which is really very weird.