Turkeys on the town.
Byline: Dylan Darling The Register-Guard
Turkeys are becoming the talk of downtown Eugene.
The big birds have been spotted in the city's urban core over the past couple of months, away from their typical haunts in south Eugene and on the Lane Community College campus.
Passers-by did a double take and stopped for a better look Tuesday as a pair of turkeys - a male and a female - walked outside the Federal Building at East Sixth Avenue and High Street.
Eric Cowger, who was washing windows at the building, was among the people who snapped photos of the turkeys with his phone.
"You don't really get that close to a wild turkey often," said Cowger, who lives in Eugene. "I guess that makes them not wild anymore. More like downtown pets."
The turkeys had ducked out of slight rainfall, taking cover in an entryway.
Wild turkeys are found in greater abundance around Roseburg, state Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said, but Eugene is a home to the birds. The "wild" in the name is used to distinguish them from domestic turkeys, she added.
She said wild turkeys are game animals - hunted in the spring and fall in rural areas - and the state has not classified them as invasive.
Their search for food typically is the reason turkeys and other wildlife move into new territory, so turkeys in Eugene "must be finding some kind of food source" downtown, Dennehy said.
The turkeys outside the Federal Building on Tuesday afternoon pecked at berries in the landscaping before being spooked by a fire truck siren and moving into the entryway.
Kyle Judy and another pedestrian stopped to observe the turkeys. The birds preened themselves and the tom, or male turkey, occasionally called while rustling his wings.
"We are not from around here," said Judy, who was visiting Eugene from Georgia, "but you don't see that in a city, do you?"
Earlier this month, social media users circulated video and a photo of a lone turkey - perhaps the same bird - in downtown Eugene. The video showed a turkey walking along a street, and the photo caught a turkey passing through furniture on display outside St. Vincent De Paul's High Street Boutique Store.
Mike Conard of Eugene captured the video of the turkey and then posted it to Twitter. He said Tuesday that he was waiting for a bus on Willamette Street when he saw the bird.
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing - there's a turkey, just window shopping," he said.
A couple of turkeys wandered last month outside the Lane County Courthouse on Eighth Avenue, said Lane County spokeswoman Devon Ashbridge. The birds spent some time near the entrance to the building, drawing curious onlookers before continuing their downtown stroll.
Ashbridge said turkeys occasionally show up near the courthouse, although the birds are more common in less populated parts of the city.
"It's kind of neat to see them downtown - a little slice of wildlife," Ashbridge said.
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