‘Gangster’ turkeys who bully kids and two other times Christmas dinner bit back

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Turkey is a comparatively new addition to the annual festive feast – here in the UK it only overtook goose as the number one choice for Christmas dinner after World War Two.

But today, at least 10 million turkeys are eaten in Blighty on Christmas Day every year, and more than twice as many gobbled across The Pond in the US.

It’s no surprise, then, that every now and then the huge ungainly bird tries to exact some kind of revenge.

Here, we recall three occasions when hapless humans cried 'fowl play' after being set upon by a wild, unruly turkey or 10.

If you think a vague threat of revenge might give your Christmas dinner an added dimension this year, this is the article for you…

'Gangster' turkey attacks

Courtney Lopchinsky, from Teaneck, New Jersey, knows better than most how the chunky chicken can turn nasty.

She told her local TV news station CBS 2 how she was sitting at her kitchen table when she spotted a few turkeys loitering on her neighbour’s roof.

“All of a sudden it went straight through the window,” Courtney said.

“We were covered in glass. The turkey was covered in mud and water and kept flapping its wings, throwing mud water everywhere.”

She said the feathered hooligan was one of a group of “gangster turkeys” known to intimidate local kids at bus stops and chase motorists.

New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Health Officer Ken Katter, speaking shortly after the 2016 turkey assault, told reporters that it’s safest not to tangle with a turkey.

He added: "Start by not confronting turkeys. You can chase them away making noises, water hoses, or even your leashed dog."

'Vicious' kings of the campus

A year after the New Jersey attacks, there was a second wave of avian violence over on America’s West Coast, on the campus of University of California, Santa Cruz.

“Turkeys run the campus,” one student posted online.

Another student, art major Caroline Alfonso, told the college newspaper she had been terrorised buy the turkeys, adding: “I’m scared to cross the street. They’re vicious!”

She added: “They are so aggressive. I used to feel bad about eating turkeys. Now I feel less sympathy. I saw a bigger one attack a small one. There was a lot of neck action.”

One of the birds, nicknamed Hank by students, seems to have a particular dislike of cars.

“I had a run-in with Hank,” said UC Santa Cruz professor Bruce Lyon. “He basically stopped traffic and was pecking tires. I guess he was a bit pumped up with testosterone. I couldn’t really drive anywhere for a few minutes.”

Bruce has a theory that Hank’s problem with cars might be something to do with sexual jealousy.

He said he saw similar behaviour from a grouse, explaining: “Every time we revved the car, the grouse stamped their feet. It got them really excited.

"Then it occurred to me that the car was mimicking the vibrational noises the grouse were making. Perhaps there is something about the noise that makes Hank think it is a competitor, trying to lure females.”

Fight turkey with turkey

There’s definitely some sort of beef between turkeys and cars.

Comedian Tracey Beckman wrote about a stand-off she had with an aggressive turkey

She was on her way home from shopping when she came across the big bird blocking her driveway.

She explained in NJ.com how she tried tooting her horn, and a certain amount of harsh language without success.

In desperation she tried blowing a raspberry at it, but that only seemed to make the bird angrier.

She said: “Of course, I'm not a wild turkey so I really have no idea what a raspberry means to a turkey. But apparently, it didn't go over well because the turkey suddenly ran toward my car and pecked hard on my bumper.”

Tracey needed to find some way of scaring the demonic bird away, but all she had was her bag of groceries.

Sometimes, it takes a turkey to stop a turkey.

She continued: “As I looked around for something to wave at the turkey, it suddenly occurred to me that I had a really good weapon right in the back of my car.

“Reaching behind me, I grabbed the frozen turkey out of the bag, bolted out of my car, ran up the driveway, and bowled the frozen turkey right at the live one.

“The wild turkey flew up in the air to avoid the turkey ball and landed in my neighbour's yard."

So, when Boxing Day comes around and you’re trying to work out what to do with all that leftover turkey, you can add “weapon of war” to the list.

  • Christmas
  • Animals

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