Tough turkeys

I am always interested in news reports of aggressive turkeys, like this one about a town in Massachusetts where some aggressive turkeys have made residents fearful.

People in Woburn, north-west of Boston, have been subjected to a barrage of attacks and intimidation by a group of five wild turkeys, with the situation forcing some to take up improvised weapons and residents reporting being trapped in their homes.

The turkeys, led by a male bird nicknamed Kevin, arrived two years ago. Initially the birds were docile, but as time passed they have become ever more pugnacious, leaving Woburners fearful for their safety and forced to adapt their behavior.

“They don’t let you out of your house,” said Meaghan Tolson, who lives in Woburn and has named the turkeys.

“They peck at cars, they stop traffic. They go after kids on bikes. If you’re walking or jogging, or anything like that, they come for you.”

Another article describes how this is a growing problem in many towns as the wild turkey population grows.

The reason for my interest is because of my own bad experiences with wild turkeys that I described here, here, and here. My actions in the face of those turkeys were, to put it charitably, less than heroic and so it made me feel better to realize that my own cowardly behavior when confronted with what are essentially overgrown chickens was not that uncommon. It appears that wild turkeys can cause serious injuries so avoidance and defensive behavior is advised.


  1. kestrel says

    I keep birds and used to have Eastern wild turkeys. However the males were so pugnacious I eventually sold my flock to a fellow bird fancier. They are quite intelligent and easy to train. I readily trained the males to jump up on a high perch every day while I was cleaning the aviary and refreshing the food and water. It simply got old, always having to order the males to perch up high so as to be up out of the way. Since their heads came up to slightly above my waist, I can see how intimidating they can be. And this is exactly why domesticated turkeys were selected for “stupidity” for lack of a better term. The last thing you want, as a turkey keeper, is 30 problem solvers trying to thwart your every move. Same with sheep… and then we make fun of them for being “stupid”…

  2. Tethys says

    I certainly would not want to deal with 30 Toms at once, but I would have no problem reminding an aggressive bird like Kevin that humans are carnivores and predators.

    You let them sneak up behind you, and then execute ‘Crane kick!’ It’s effective for overly cocky roosters too. If knocked them ass over teakettle fails to cure the aggression, the soup pot works.

  3. lochaber says

    There are a bunch of turkeys near where I work. They are ridiculous animals, and I think someone is feeding them, because they are entirely too comfortable around humans, and even approach people sometimes.

    So, I’m doing my part to try and make them less comfortable around humans, whenever I see them too close to our building, I’ll yell at them and chase them off. Not sure if it’s actually accomplishing anything…

  4. Tethys says

    They can bruise you with their leg spurs and wings, but they don’t have teeth or huge claws. Handling most birds is not dangerous, but it helps to see how it is done. Aggressive Toms are rather large, and are usually doing their best to be intimidating. It’s a bluff.
    Just remember, you have hands and the Turkey can’t actually bite you. (Pecks hurt, but it’s not a big deal) Often you can trick their tiny bird brains by simply raising your arms and being bigger than them. Attempting to catch the Tom is a good way to teach them proper manners, just remember to hold them well away from your body if you succeed in grabbing them. They will flap wildly as their fight turns to flight.

    There are plenty of animals that are quite dangerous to handle, but Turkeys are just large balls of feathers with a beak and a mean streak.

  5. Mano Singham says

    alanuk @#8,

    You need a permit to shoot turkeys and that is only allowed at certain times and in certain locations, depending on the state. You definitely will not get a permit to shoot a turkey in built up areas.

  6. jrkrideau says

    @ 8 alanuk
    I was just going to ask that. 🙂

    @ 9 Mano
    You need a permit to shoot turkeys

    Mano, you have been living in the USA too long to hear the absurdity in your answer.
    At least to alanuk and I who do not live in the USA.

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