Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The terrorist tom turkeys of Owen Park

The Terrorist Tom Turkeys of Owen Conservation Park
I had photographed some wild turkeys earlier on the prairie of Owen Conservation Park on Madison's West Side, but when these guys approached the road out of the park as I was leaving, I reached for my camera again. I did not leave the car, however. I had read about what they were capable of -- homeowners, children and mail carriers in the neighborhood have all been terrorized by tom turkeys during the mating season. I wasn't going to take any chances.
Mara Wilhite, manager of the Hilldale Station Post Office, said wild turkeys have been pestering postal delivery workers in Parkwood Hills, a neighborhood on Madison 's West Side near Owen Conservation Park and home to a number of the large birds.

Between five and 10 large male turkeys, or toms -- apparently a little giddy with the onset of turkey breeding season -- have been bullying postal workers as they make their rounds, pecking at them and even trying to rough them up with the sharp spurs on their legs. One of the birds launched itself through the open door of a mail truck and scratched the driver.

Eric Lobner, regional wildlife program supervisor for the state Department of Natural Resources, is on the case, investigating the turkey gang.


Why the turkeys have targeted postal workers this spring remains a mystery. Lobner said the behavior is clearly tied to the breeding season, which just started and runs through about mid-May. He said color plays an important role in turkey breeding and added that the male 's head during mating season changes from gaudy blue to white to red.

Perhaps, Lobner speculated, turkeys are attracted to the red, white and blue postal trucks.
More at the link, including a tale about a turkey that police had to taser a couple years ago when it occupied a house and refused to leave.

As for me, I was just glad that my car wasn't flaunting patriotic red, white and blue, but just an ordinary, nondescript beige paint job. I emerged unscathed.


Dr Bud Diablo, Turkey Whisperer said...

This story, with only a bit of dramatic exaggeration, could become a hit horror flick. An angry flock of turkeys is much more terrifying than rabbits ("Lepus") or the hokey giant spider in the film Bill Dyke produced years ago ("Arachnid" or some such thing.

"Gobbler!" tells the tale of turkeys who strike back at the humans who have dined upon them for years. The main character, a mailman, is able to persuade the turkeys that he's part gobbler because his name happens to be Tom Wattle. He joins a marauding flock, working undercover to devise a way to stop the mayhem.

I think I've said too much, but my post is, after all, copyright protected from the inception. I might be willing to reveal how Wattle, heh, turns the tables on the turkeys if you think it would draw traffic to the site. Want to collaborate on a screenplay, MadGuy?

Madison Guy said...

An auspicious start. Line up the financing, Turkey Whisperer, and we're good to go.

Dr Bud Diablo as "Tom Wattle" said...

I was too feverish with excitement to sleep last night. This film will be like "The Birds" except that all the action will take place at ground level. It will be a Bell-Witch-Style ersatz documentary that I estimate we can shoot for $1500. I thought of a role for that six-foot Johnsonville Sausage too. I won't say more.

The Laundress said...

lobbing rotten tomatoes at the both of you...

damn, wild turkeys are still new to me and still give me thrilling shivers of joy.

my sister lives in a southern state, where the turkeys have rebounded with vigor. Here, in the upper Midwest, they are still kind of a novelty, I think. Don't send 'em off to the Lodi Sausage Kitchen just yet. Postal workers bedamned.


"Turkey Day: Now It's Their Turn!" said...

I submitted a single-sentence logline via email to Lions Gate Films. They replied within 20 minutes that the plot was "bizarre to the point of autism." It was gratifying to get a response so quickly.

In light of the valuable feedback from Lions Gate and you, Laundress, we may need to rethink this project. It's true that it's a big kick to see them reestablished in Wisconsin, and this may be an inauspicious time to sully their public image.

Miriam said...

Go, Turkey Gang! Also I have <s>a</s> two dollars to give you to fund the screenplay, because THAT IS AWESOME.