Fine Feathered Fiends: 6 Bizarre Turkey Attacks

Why did the turkey cross the road? To peck at your tires.
Why did the turkey cross the road? To peck at your tires.
Judy Gallagher, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In the last several decades, conservation organizations have successfully brought wild turkeys back from the brink of extinction in the U.S.—so it’s not uncommon to run into one (or many) in your neighborhood. While most of these encounters are innocuous, turkeys have been known to lash out at cars, mail carriers, and kitchen windows in the past. Here are six of the strangest stories to bring to the table this Thanksgiving.

1. New Jersey’s Gobbling Gangsters

Courtney Lopchinsky was enjoying a peaceful family dinner at home in Teaneck, New Jersey, when a wild turkey crashed through the kitchen window, showering her and her children with glass and mud. “I grabbed the kids and we literally ran for our lives out of the house because we were so scared,” she told CBS2 in 2016. According to Lopchinsky, the unwelcome dinner guest was one of many “gangster turkeys” known to “terrorize kids at bus stops and chase people to their cars.” Teaneck health officer Ken Katter recommended simply giving the birds a wide berth, though “water hoses” and “leashed dogs” could be used to scare them off if necessary. As for how to deal with breaking and entering, he didn’t say.

2. When Turkeys Encircled a Dead Cat

In March 2017, Jonathan Davis witnessed a flock of well-organized turkeys plodding around a dead cat in the middle of a street outside Boston. “They were moving in perfect unison, bobbing their heads, and it almost looked as if it were some type of séance or ritual,” he told Inside Edition. Alas, the cat did not rise—and the turkeys probably didn’t want it to. “My guess is they are puzzled by the strange behavior of the dead or dying cat [and wanted] to get a closer look, without getting too close,” Tom Hughes, a wildlife biologist at the National Wild Turkey Federation, explained to National Geographic.

3. The Prized Pet That Ambushed a Brooklyn Butcher

In April 1924, a Brooklyn butcher named Sam Fishman entered Garber & Danziger’s live poultry shop to choose some chickens and ended up leaving with a broken arm. The room was dim, so Fishman was completely blindsided when a “turkey gobbler weighing at least 40 pounds charged from behind a dark corner.” Upon impact, Fishman slipped on the wet floor and landed on his left arm, which didn’t heal properly after surgery. He sued the owners, Mollie Garber and Benjamin Danziger, who explained in court that the turkey was a pet and “never had shown vicious propensities before.” About two years after the accident, the court awarded Fishman $2000 in damages (a little over $29,000 today).

4. The Woman Who Fought Fowl With Fowl

In November 2014, humor columnist Tracy Beckerman headed home after a trip to the grocery store to find a wild turkey blocking her driveway. After she shouted, sounded her car horn, and blew a raspberry at it, the bird charged her car and gave the bumper an almighty peck. Since it showed no signs of leaving her property, Beckerman turned to more drastic measures. She plucked the wrapped, raw Thanksgiving turkey from her grocery bag and lobbed it at its living relative. The wild turkey took to the skies to dodge the missile, but it didn’t go far—moments later, it had settled in her neighbor’s yard.

5. When Turkeys Waged War Against a Michigan Mail Carrier

In 2009, the turkeys of Grand Haven, Michigan, started targeting one human in particular: the mail carrier, Doug Cody. “We can’t figure it out because anybody else can walk pretty close to them and they’ll just stay there and look at you, but even when he comes down in his truck—he’ll back his truck around and they’ll peck at the truck,” one resident told WWMT. Once, when a few menacing turkeys had cornered Cody on a resident’s porch, he called the postmaster for help. “She laughed so hard I think she just dropped the phone,” Cody said. Other postal workers treated the ongoing issue with similar levity, filling Cody’s office mailbox with turkey feathers and hanging “Wanted” signs for the fiendish fowl. Eventually, Cody took to bringing a thin plank of wood on his route to keep the birds at a distance.

6. Hank Hatebeak, the Big Bird on Campus

In 2017, wild turkeys wreaked so much havoc on campus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, that students started keeping tabs on—and even naming—individual offenders. The biggest culprit was Hank Hatebeak, a particularly large and hostile specimen with a proclivity for pecking car tires. “I used to feel bad about eating turkeys,” art student Caroline Alfonso said in a news release. “Now I feel less sympathy.”

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40) 

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse 3.5 Quarts; $180 (save $120)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75) 

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $88 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10) 

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $13 (save $14)

HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- Fairywill Electric Toothbrush with Four Brush Heads; $19 (save $9)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31) 

TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Home Office Shredder; $33 (save $7)

Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30) 

Video games

Sony

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition for Nintendo Switch; $20 (save $10)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

The Sims 4; $20 (save $20)

God of War for PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

Days Gone for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- Apple MacBook Air 13 inches with 256 GB; $899 (save $100)

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250) 

- Samsung Chromebook 4 Chrome OS 11.6 inches with 32 GB; $210 (save $20) 

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 inches with 32 GB; $100 (save $50)

Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $379 (save $20)

- Apple iMac 27 inches with 256 GB; $1649 (save $150)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $179 (save $20) 

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $169 (save $50)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera with EF-M 15-45mm Lens; $549 (save $100)

DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

Watch: In 1948, Idaho Officials Sent 76 Beavers Parachuting Into Idaho’s Wilderness

A young beaver with all four feet firmly on the ground.
A young beaver with all four feet firmly on the ground.
yrjö jyske, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When people started building up the area around Idaho’s Payette Lake after World War II, its original residents began interfering with irrigation and agricultural endeavors. They weren’t exactly staging an organized protest—they were just beavers doing what beavers do.

Nevertheless, officials at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game decided their best bet was to find a new home for the long-toothed locals. The surrounding wilderness provided plenty of options, but transportation was another issue entirely. Traversing the undeveloped, mountainous terrain would require both trucks and pack animals, and experts knew from past relocation efforts that beavers weren’t fond of either.

“Beavers cannot stand the direct heat of the sun unless they are in water,” department employee Elmo W. Heter explained in a 1950 report [PDF]. “Sometimes they refuse to eat. Older individuals often become dangerously belligerent ... Horses and mules become spooky and quarrelsome when loaded with a struggling, malodorous pair of live beavers.”

To keep Payette Lake’s beavers healthy and happy during the journey, their human handlers would need to find another method of travel. As Boise State Public Radio reports, that’s when Heter suggested making use of their leftover WWII parachutes.

Two beavers would sit inside a wooden box attached to a parachute, which could be dropped from an airplane between 500 and 800 feet above their new home in the Chamberlain Basin. The cables that fastened the box to the parachute would keep it shut during the flight, but they’d slacken enough for the beavers to open the box upon landing. After testing the operation with weights, Heter and his colleagues enlisted an older beaver named Geronimo for a few live trials.

“Poor fellow!” Heter wrote. “You may be sure that ‘Geronimo’ had a priority reservation on the first ship into the hinterland, and that three young females went with him.”

Once Geronimo had certified the safety of the mission, the team began migrating the whole beaver population. During the fall of 1948, a total of 76 beavers touched down in their new territory. It wasn’t without tragedy, though; one beaver fell to his death after a cable broke on his box. Overall, however, the venture was deemed much safer (and less expensive) than any trip on foot would have been. And when department officials checked in on the beavers a year later, they had already started improving their ecosystem.

“Beavers had built dams, constructed houses, stored up food, and were well on their way to producing colonies,” Heter wrote. As Idaho Fish and Game’s Steve Liebenthal told Boise State Public Radio, the area is now part of “the largest protected roadless forest” in the continental U.S.

You can watch the Idaho Fish and Game Commission’s full 14-minute documentary about the process below.

[h/t Boise State Public Radio]