Aggressive turkeys are taking over Massachusetts. But it’s nothing new…
Complaints about hostile wild turkeys in Boston have grown in recent years, as they clash with residents and chase pets and people. Some people have even suffered minor injuries from the birds. But why are they so aggressive?
Turkeys adhere to the pecking order, which is a social hierarchy in which a dominant bird pecks on birds of lesser status. Males in particular are driven to be physically aggressive in order to climb the pecking order. And since turkeys don’t really have the perspective to know that humans are humans, they’ll try to establish dominance. So if you don’t establish dominance on your first encounter, expect to get pecked.
Wildlife experts have blamed the pushy turkeys on residents who leave food out for them, which encourages flocks to settle in and helps them survive the winter
Massachusetts state law doesn’t allow the police or animal control to remove aggressive turkeys, so if you cross paths with one, call the SPCA for information on how to handle it.
Individual accounts of turkey attacks are both terrifying and hilarious. This article describes an attack by a turkey that the author names “Tom.” In the account, every time the author tries to drive his car away, the turkey strikes. The account reads like something out of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.
Unsurprisingly, turkey attacks are at their worst when it’s their breeding season. The attacks are mostly perpetrated by males. The turkey breeding season starts in spring and usually lasts for around 16 weeks. Turkeys usually settle down by summertime, meaning that the worst attacks are over. To a lesser extent, aggressive turkey attacks have been known to take place throughout the year, however.
If you live in New England, watch out for turkeys next March-May!