Notes from the Waxhaws

Close encounter

with 2 comments

I was just settling in this evening when something caught my eye through the living room window. Something big moving out front. Getting up to take a look…I spotted a bird…a very large bird ambling about the front lawn. It was a wild turkey…moseying about looking for grub. I quickly grabbed my camera and managed to get a picture as she strutted across the grass. It looked to be a female…that is, a hen Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo).

wild turkey

I’ve heard these birds before…gobbling in the nearby woods…and have occasionally seen them furtively crossing the road ahead as I’m driving. But this was truly a close encounter…of an unexpected kind.

Written by Jim

May 9, 2013 at 7:30 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Hello, Jim

    As you know, I live in an area of Northern California which I suppose would be considered directly on the confluence of urban and suburban; certainly non-rural. Yet for all our thriving population here, the bird life is remarkable, most especially wild turkeys which are nearly on the brink of becoming domesticated pets. No idea the sub-species here (one day I’ll find the camera *again*) but apparently this is a busy ornithological migratory route as well as permanent home to many species of birds.

    Turkeys, though, are no longer all that wild. They roost and have their broods in large yards and seem to subsist satisfactorily on human hand-outs. Across the busy avenue from where I live there’s a winding lane where you’re best off going slowly instead of the speed limit. Nothing like nearly colliding with a half dozen or so LARGE birds. I’m sure they concur. A few years ago I was turning into the driveway where there were several people standing. They were all looking up in the direction of my roof where four, five turkeys were sunning on the terra cotta tiles. Eventually they jumped down and mosied along toward the easement property that runs parallel to the property here, talking all the way.

    They are big as you know. While it takes them awhile to take flight, owing to their size I guess, I also surmise that they’re quite fearsome in a fight with wingspans that can probably topple a fair sized dog. Being wild they’re prone to being rangy instead of fattened up for Thanksgiving dinner.

    Last winter I’d gone out very early, just after sunrise, to warm up the car. We’d had a hard free so the windshield and glass were iced right thickly and had to be squeegeed and scraped. I was using an old square of towel to wipe off any surplus ice and as I did I’d flick the ice off onto driveway. Suddenly I realized I was hearing familiar gobbling off in the distance. I flicked the towel one or twice more and the gobbling got closer. Sure enough, there was a pair of wild turkeys standing no more than about 20, 25 feet away, ogling more than just eyeing me. As I’d move they’d move their heads and necks in tandem in my direction. And grumble.

    Knowing they were watching, I couldn’t resist. I gathered up a small handful of ice in the towel and flicked it perhaps a bit too aggressively in their direction. They did NOT approve. Suddenly they charged me and it took an instant to understand that I was about to be attacked. My only escape was to jump in the car fast as I could, figuring they’d back off and I could be on my way. WRONG! No sooner had I slammed the car door shut that I heard these “pung, pung, pung” noises. Crazy birds were pecking the fender and bumper! I watched them best I could through the rear view mirror, more “punging”, more gobble grumbling and occasionally one would stretch its neck way up like it was trying to see what I was doing. Talk about angry birds!

    You might say I was a little freaked out about the entire event. I couldn’t back out; even if my poor car with an already bad paint job was being assaulted I surely didn’t want to run over a turkey, visions of animal control running through my head. The idea of being obligated to cleaning and dressing a twenty some odd pound bird was neither on my schedule or in my heart. Finally, after what seemed an eternity (maybe two minutes) and still very much confined to the car, my neighbor across the way pulled into the driveway. When he saw that I was under siege (he laughed!) he tapped his horn a couple of times to divert these enraged BEASTS’ attention so I could leave. THEY COMMENCED TO ATTACK HIS CAR!

    Naturally, I tapped my horn. THEY RAN BACK OVER AND RE-ATTACKED MY CAR!


    Finally I backed out of the driveway to pick up my neighbor who lives about a block up the street. As soon as she got in the car I told her all about the excitement of the morning then I made a U-turn and just as I was about to drive past my driveway those crazy birds ran out into the street and tried to chase me down!

    So, the moral of this story is do not provoke a turkey. They aren’t called “wild” for nothing. Besides, it’d be downright humiliating to go down in history as the first woman to ever be mauled to death by big, big partially domesticated Wild turkeys!birds.

    I’m enjoying your blog very much!



    May 9, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    • Thanks Amy…for your story. It was both hilarious…and frightening at the same time! I can easily imagine gangs of urban turkey thugs roaming the streets and causing mayhem. Turkeys gone wild. I seriously think that we’re living under some sort of dispensation…which if lifted…would be the end of our world as we know it!

      A while back, I was reading in the living room when I heard a loud thump up on the roof. I went outside to see what was going on…and was taken aback by the sight of 4 or 5 large vultures casually sitting on the roof…sunning themselves on a cold day. I found a stone and lobbed it into their midst. They all took off, but one perched in a nearby tree and continued to eye me with a somewhat malevolent gaze. It raised the proverbial hair on the back of my neck. I went back inside.

      But I’m glad that most of the animals…like the wild turkeys…around here are not yet domesticated, and are still somewhat fearful of humans. Although, my nearest neighbor recently told me that on one of his walks down our gravel-dirt road, a pack of about eight coyotes walked out of the woods and didn’t appear to be very frightened. He said he now carries a gun with him on his walks…just in case.


      May 10, 2013 at 7:34 pm

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