Guest Blog: Chris O’Neill: Fowl Play

Turkey Lust

It is spring on Cape Cod.  The temperature is creeping up above 30, the crocuses have bloomed, then frozen to death leaving sad little flower carcasses lining the front walkway.  There is snow scheduled for April Fool’s Day, no they are not kidding, perhaps “substantial amounts”.  But the flock of thirty or more wild turkeys that roam our neighborhood move to an internal clock all their own, and it is definitely mating season.

I honestly love where I live, although I have to admit that this is one winter I would really like to be done with.  We have great wildlife, coyotes, deer, fox, raccoons, fishers and all kinds of birds.  You can drive north for a few hours and see moose grazing on the roadside, black bears crossing the roads, and if you are really sharp possibly lynx or river otters in the woods.  It’s a great place, and I love wildlife.

HOWEVER….Oh yes there is a “HOWEVER”.  I have bird issues, major bird issues.  My family thinks this is hysterical.  There was the Great Emu assault of 2006, the South Station Pigeon Gangs when I worked in Boston and the time a woodpecker got stuck in our fireplace.  I love birds, to watch.  I feed wild birds, I have multiple bird houses and baths, I have a feeder at work and when I forget to fill it one particular cardinal sits on my window ledge, and yells at me.  It’s bird for “Hey! I’m hungry…what’s the deal here? Hey!”  I don’t really like being up close and personal, though.  When birds get in the house like the Flicker in the Fireplace (it was at a time when my kids were reading Animal Ark stories), I’m afraid they are going to hurt themselves, fly into something in their panic, and break their necks.  When birds get too close outdoors, I have this totally irrational fear that something smaller than my hand is going to peck me and hurt me.  I am terrified of pigeons, yes, I know it’s ridiculous – that’s what makes it an irrational fear.

So where was this all going?  Oh yes, Turkey Lust.  The flock of wild turkeys is in love.  The males are walking around all puffed up like the Thanksgiving platter pictures, something you don’t see around Thanksgiving because they are over it by then.  The females, like females regardless of species, are walking away from them disdainfully, or simply sitting down and hiding the essential “parts”.  The other morning there were about 20 females pecking around under my bird feeders, when two young males approached.  They all gobbled, and hissed and chased the males off, making what could only be derisive turkey comments.  The boy turkeys ran into the underbrush in shame.  Poor guys, but I didn’t think much of it.  Twenty minutes later they came running out of the brush and chased two 6 foot tall high school boys down the street.  Luckily the boys were just in time for the bus, or there might have been bloodshed.  It was hysterical to watch, but only because it did not involve a trip to the hospital for stitches.  Teenage boys are almost as uncoordinated as adolescent turkeys, the girls at the bus stop and the female turkeys in the yard were all cracking up, as the boys (human and turkey) ran in circles, waving their arms, flapping their wings, yelling and gobbling, it was a sight to see. Ah well, back to some early morning paperwork, then off to work.

And then there was the traffic jam.  I live a mile from my office.  Two rights and a left and I’m there.  I was stopped in traffic that morning on the “main” road for ten minutes as these two testosterone overloaded birds, strutted around cars, pecking at hubcaps, flapping and posturing.  I am certain it was the same two turkeys.  In their tiny little bird brains, they must have decided they could impress the girls by taking on something really big, my neighbor’s Corolla.  She was afraid to drive into them, they wouldn’t give an inch, and the remainder of the flock was milling about in the road watching the show, so there was no progress in either direction until the females got bored and wandered off with the males following, answering the age old question, would they rather fight or, well, you know.  Luckily, I’m self-employed; can you imagine explaining to an employer that you were late because of a turkey traffic jam?

This brings us to my arrival home last night.  I pulled in and the flock was at the bottom of the driveway, about 20 of them.  I pulled forward slowly and they moved grudgingly out of my way, only by inches, but the car was where it needed to be, however I was trapped.  On either side of the car, were HUGE Tom Turkeys.  These were not gangly adolescent birds, but hip tall beasts.  One of the females was resting comfortably directly in front of the car, and the two guys were strutting around in circles, gobbling, and puffing themselves up, fanning their tails, occasionally flapping their wings.  They both had bright blue heads!  Their heads turn blue when they are “aroused”; I think it’s from lack of oxygen to their teeny, tiny little brains.  Well now what was I to do?

I very bravely opened the car door a tiny bit, and put one foot out.  I thought, “It’s a bird, it will be afraid of me and move off.”  Ha! The driver’s side bird (I’ve named him Charles – as in Manson) lunged at it, I scrambled back in and shut the door.  Now I am neither athletic, nor petite, so the image of me climbing over the center console to attempt an escape from the passenger seat can only be imagined, suffice it to say this was not pretty.  I cracked the passenger side door open not even venturing a foot out, and Ted (yes, Bundy) was even more homicidal than Charles, Ted leapt into the air, and pecked on the car window, screeching like, well a homicidal maniac.  So here I was, held hostage in my own driveway, by a pair of crazed birds, that my daughter likes to remind me have heads smaller than golf balls, and brains about a third of the size of their heads…”there’s a reason the term is Bird Brains, mom!”.

Well, I had to do something, so I tried honking the horn.  The rest of the flock, including the female Charles & Ted were performing for ran for the woods.  Charles gobbled at me some more, then decided to follow the rest of the flock, apparently more focused on reproduction than murder.  Ted however, Ted is a psycho killer among poultry.  He had forgotten all about the lady turkeys.  Ted flew to the hood of my SUV and began pecking at the windshield, beating his wings, and pooping all over everything. Apparently the honk was a challenge.  I moved back to the driver’s seat, and the damned bird followed my every move.  Out of curiosity, since I was pretty sure he couldn’t actually break the glass, I began bobbing my head from side to side, and he followed it!  He was pecking at my face in the glass.

I was obviously going to need outside assistance, yet nobody had come out of the house when I honked.  My husband’s car was not in the driveway but the kids should be home.  I called the house on my cell phone.  Nobody answered.  I cracked the window, and heard the sweet strains of Layla being played on an amped up electric guitar, Brian was home, but was never going to hear the phone. Now what?

I turned the car on thinking that would frighten Ted.  Nope, he did poop more though.  In the end, I ended up throwing the car into reverse, backing up at high speed, then slamming on the brakes, and Ted went flying off the hood of the car and landed in a heap on the driveway.

I thought about running him over, I really did.  I have never run anything over, not even suicidal squirrels by accident.  I struggled with myself, Ted was a homicidal maniac among birds, and the neighborhood would definitely be a safer place without him.  But, I was unscathed, Ted was obviously suffering from an overabundance of testosterone, which should go away in a few weeks, and he does have a brain only a third of the size of a golf ball.  Can you really give a living thing the death penalty for being horny, angry and stupid?  I mean, if you’re not in Texas?  After all if you did, you would probably lose a significant percentage of the human population.  In the end I drove around the block, and when I got home the yard was turkey free.

I went into the house, and Brian looked up from his guitar, “Hi Mum, how was your day?”  I said nothing…well nothing about the Turkey Attack; this bird thing is becoming a pattern.  I just couldn’t bear to be the source of another Mom was attacked by crazed birds story.  “My day was fine honey, how was school?”

Word Count: 1544





One thought on “Guest Blog: Chris O’Neill: Fowl Play

  1. Well, for cryin’ out loud….I never knew….wotta woman! Just read your whole blog, and I almost never read at all. You are like Jerry Seinfeld, commandingly entertaining about really nothing, just everyday normal happenings. I laughed, was enraged, went through the whole gammut of emotions. Glad our paths have crossed, Mel.


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