Guy Churchward, a tech company CEO from Monterey County, California, was driving down the road in the hills near his home when a wild turkey with a strange appendage caught his eye. He pulled over, and when he got a clearer look at the bird, it wasn't an extra appendage he was seeing—it was a 30-inch arrow protruding through its chest. The bird, who has been christened with the name of Cupid by those who've heard his story, seems to be relatively unfazed by its potentially catastrophic injury.
Cupid sightings have been recorded multiple times by several different people, beginning back in December. The photos and videos have captured scenes of the jake roosting in trees, foraging for grubs, and evading predators. All normal things that turkeys do, except Cupid is doing it with a long carbon fiber stick poking out on both sides of his chest. As painful as it looks, it doesn't seem to be slowing this thunder chicken down a bit.
Churchward posted the video he took of Cupid to YouTube on July 29.
"A turkey with an arrow—I thought was the oddest thing," Churchward said. "I immediately jumped out of my car to take a photo."
Since connecting with Cupid, Churchward has made it his personal mission to petition local wildlife agencies and the SPCA to capture and treat the bird's injury. However, wildlife experts say the risks of capturing and treating Cupid outweigh any potential benefits. Beth Brookhouser, a spokesperson for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Monterey County, noted that it is possible the arrow has only pierced through the turkey's feathers and not any tissue or bone material.
"[The turkey] does not seem to be having at this point any sort of serious infection," Brookhouser said, "[It is] still moving around really well."
Message boards have been lit up with concerned citizens posting about Cupid's every move and exchanging messages about what they think should be done.
"We celebrate Cupid daily in the extended community, we admire the grit and determination, and we do what we can to support the underdog and it remains quite the talking point," Churchward said.
It is unknown how Cupid got his arrow, but turkey hunting is illegal in Cupid's home range, so it's assumed that this was a sloppy case of turkey poaching gone wrong. Cupid isn't the first bird—or critter, even—to be spotted in the wild having been pierced by arrow, but carrying on nonetheless.
Earlier this summer, another turkey—this time, a tom near Fort Collins, Colorado—was walking around with an arrow stuck through it. In Homer, Alaska, a sandhill crane that had been shot with an arrow through its breast and out the wing was still walking around as usual. In Pennsylvania, a cat with an arrow in its neck was rescued in February.
Historically, an impaled bird helped humans understand the concept of migration. In 1822, a white stork was attacked with an iron-tipped wooden spear in central Africa but survived the attack and flew back to western Europe before ultimately being taken down by another arrow in Germany. Documentation of the stork's journey helped experts put the pieces together; before this occurrence, many still believed birds hibernated, metamorphosed, or moved according to some other mystical explanation.