It was the morning of July Fourth, and our car was under attack by wild turkeys. I’d say that we were asking for it.
On national holidays we drive up to the university and view the wildlife. Campus is largely in forest, and the beasts of the field move in once people have deserted it for a day or two. Coyotes in the Great Meadow, herds of deer on East Field, bobcats on Hagar Drive. These sights give you a perspective on who the world really belongs to. And it’s fun.
We saw no such animals — well, one deer — but we did meet a flock of turkeys by the bookstore. We got between the dominant male and his females, and he immediately came at the car.
Turkeys have one attack strategy: immediate close with the vehicle and begin to circle it. Then peck at the tires.
Mind you, this is all out of the driver’s sight, because the turkey stays close in and and below the car windows. But you can hear it, gobbling madly: from the front, from the back, then under your window, then from the passenger side.
And every so often comes the soft TUNK of the turkey pecking at one one of your steel-belted radials.
This all makes complete sense — to the turkey. Tires resemble turkeys in several respects: bulbous, dark, rough-textured, upright. So it’s natural that the turkey should try to drive off the four “invaders” (TUNK) that the car rides on.
And I did try to drive away, but the turkey kept up with me. “Watch out!” my wife yelled. “It’s right in front of the car!”
“I can’t see!” I braked, then started again slowly. From somewhere out of view: GOOBLEGOBBLEGOOBLE (TUNK). I started the car forward again, slowly.
“He’s chasing the car!” (TUNK)
For a moment he was right beneath my window, wattle engorged with rage. I was looking at a dinosaur.
I accelerated briskly: he could be pressed turkey, if that was his wish, but I was getting out of there.
And at last we pulled away, leaving him fortunately unflattened. And the proud and somewhat mad defender of his slice of road.
Hey Jim! Three or four years ago, I had a customer who is also a neighbor of mine come in my shop and tell me that I had a really, really big bird in my yard. Naturally, it wasn’t there when I got home. I eventually got a gander (sorry!) at it – a turkey of course. Think it was a female but I didn’t get up close to find out. Dang, those things ARE big! Anyway, they come down to our neighborhood from the canal trail which leads up to the park that is along the local mountain ridge. We get all kinds of animals in the neighborhood. I’ve even seen a coyote.
Yeah, LK, they are big, especially when they’re puffed up. They’ve got big claws and can hurt you with them, but the turkeys in question didn’t do that — just pecked car tires. They’ve disappeared, probably moved to a better place by the wildlife people. The university gets deer, cows (sometimes grazed there), the occasional blue heron (they stand with the cows and hunt for rodents), and I have seen a bobcat and a couple of coyotes. My favorite story: I was driving up to university and passed the herd of cattle; off in the distance, a coyote was sneaking up on them. I made my drop and came back down the hill. The coyote was standing in the middle of the herd, which was ignoring him. Even the calves were three times his weight. He had the dangdest expression on his face, if a coyote can have one: something along the line of, this didn’t exactly work out the way I expected.