Most people’s experience with turkeys is limited to the centerpiece plate during Thanksgiving. Cooked, grilled, fried — there are plenty of ways to prepare them and everyone seems to have their foolproof method.
The turkeys we eat and their wild cousins are different in many ways. Domesticated turkeys have different colors of plumage, but the majority that are raised for meat have white feathers (it gives them a cleaner look when dressed).
Wild turkeys are generally less-colorful peacocks, sporting a variety of browns, blacks and bronzes. Their wattles and snood (the weird flap of skin that hangs over their beak) are brightly colored.
Wild turkeys can fly. Not as far as most birds, but much farther than their domesticated counterparts who have been bred for meat production rather than speed or agility.
And they can be aggressive. Both wild and domesticated turkeys have been known to chase down people and other animals. The males, known as “toms,” are particularly guilty of this.
Some people who have had the opportunity (or misfortune) of meeting wild turkeys face-to-face know this very well. While they can’t maul you like a dog or other animal with an impressive set of teeth can, they can bite — and their talons can definitely leave you with gashes.
Some people in Stamford, Connecticut, dealt with a flock of mean birds last year. What they may not have realized at first, was that they were causing the problem.
Residents started by feeding turkeys over the summer, perhaps charmed by the seemingly docile birds’ presence in their yards. But as the turkeys got accustomed to their human feeders, they started to lose their fear and respect, according to what a wild turkey expert told the Stamford Advocate.
“When turkeys are fed by people, they become habituated to them and start to see them on the same level as other turkeys,” Michael Gregonis said. “There’s a hierarchy in turkey flocks and each turkey has its place and they fight among themselves.”
“I have been getting several complaints, mostly from older people afraid to leave their houses, and a few joggers who have been chased,” Steven Kolenberg, the city rep, said. “But my biggest concern is for Newfield Elementary School, which is in the middle of these turkeys’ territory.”
Another main target? Mail carriers. Gregonis believes this is because they show up at the same place and time every day.
That’s what this poor mailman experienced one day as he was just trying to do his job and deliver mail. The owner of the house had a motion-sensing camera that kept going off, and when he looked at his notifications he was treated to quite a show.
The mailman cautiously approached the mailbox, the turkey in the background eyeing him. After a short standoff, the turkey rushed the mailman, and a fierce battle ensued.
Generally if you back away quietly you won’t trigger them. If it’s too late and you stand up for yourself and act aggressive, they might be convinced to back off.
But even this mailman’s most ferocious yells and paper-waving wouldn’t deter the bird. The video cuts off toward the end, but hopefully the mailman won the battle, delivered his mail, and got out of there!
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.