Thursday, April 29, 2010

Turkeys Gone Wild- Part I

I was attacked by a turkey while vacationing in Turkey.  Yes, I know that turkeys are native to North America.  No, I don't know how they got a large gobbler to their rural restaurant.  But I do recall how he ran at me, flew up several times with his spurs extended and chased me for 50 feet.  Now that was an invasive species!
Each year there are more news stories about aggressive turkey encounters with humans. This time of year is mating season and gobblers get very jealous of any one who seems to be a threat to their masculinity.   They try to establish dominance toward humans as well as other gobblers, using bluffs and outright fighting tactics.  In addition to a bad attitude, they have spurs which are sharpened by dragging them on the ground.
Turkeys have a pecking order, and if they are accustomed to humans they may treat you like another turkey.    The best defense according to the Illinois Extension is to be more dominant by making noise, waving your arms, and chasing them with a broom or an umbrella.  Running like I did is not considered the best approach, although it seemed like a very good idea at the time.  Next time I will carry my umbrella everywhere. (Editor's note:  I'm certain he won't be carrying a broom.)
USA Today just ran an amusing story on "turkeys gone wild."   It describes turkeys discovered in a house and a business, entering after they broke out a window.  Not being the sharpest fowl in the bird world, they have no sense of self, and attack their reflection in the window.  Weighing in at over 100 times the weight of the cardinal that routinely hammers our window, it is no surprise that they end up "breaking and entering".
I guess their attitude toward us is to be expected as we do have seasons dedicated to hunting them.  This raises a final question.  If turkeys are so slow and stupid, why do so many intelligent people who go into the woods in full camouflage, armed to the teeth, come back home empty handed?
More information is at the Minnesota Extension.
Stay tuned for Part II.

Information on handling an aggressive turkey is found here.

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