Attack of the Wild Turkeys in Bergen County: Thanksgiving Revenge?
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As incidents of aggressive wild turkey behavior in Bergen County continue to make the news, residents are not sure how to react to this seemingly new threat from these angry birds. Even a member of the team recently had her car surrounded by a group of turkeys as she attempted to navigate a quiet street in Upper Saddle River. What the heck is happening here? Could this be payback for generations of Thanksgiving feasts? 

Recent Behavior of Wild Turkeys in Bergen County

According to the United States Humane Society, wild turkeys tend to be more aggressive during the mating season which runs from around mid-March through June. Related activities may begin as early as mid-February, and late nesting attempts may take place well into the summer. Gobbling, strutting, drumming and fighting among males increases as spring progresses. During the mating season, male turkeys often act aggressively towards reflective surfaces including windows, automobile mirrors, wheels or polished car doors, thinking that their reflection is an intruding male turkey. The reflectivity of the window, vehicle, or other shiny object may need to be changed or covered up in some fashion in order to stop the turkey from pecking at it. This antisocial and downright aggressive behavior may be the best explanation for the recent rash of wild turkey incidents that Bergen County residents have been reporting over the past few weeks.

Why My Neighborhood?

According to the National Wildlife Federation, the ideal wild turkey habitat includes a scattering of trees, a mixture of plants, like dogwood and wild cherry, that provide food and cover. Turkeys make good use of green plants and seed heads found in pastures, fields, backyards, roadsides and elsewhere. These areas also provide the insects needed to obtain the high quantity of protein necessary for their first few weeks of growth. Turkeys need water almost daily and must have easy access to permanent water sources.

How to Avoid Wild Turkey Attacks

The best defense against aggressive turkeys is to prevent the birds from becoming habituated in the first place by showing them who is the boss and being bold to them. Everyone in your neighborhood should do the same. Each turkey should view all humans in your neighborhood as dominant in the pecking order and respond to them as superiors rather than subjects. Habituated turkeys may attempt to dominate or attack people that the birds view as subordinates.

Wild Turkey Population

Believe it or not, America’s wild turkeys almost went extinct in 1930 from loss of forest habitat and hunting. Recovery efforts, including those by the Wild Turkey Federation, have been successful over the past 80 years and there are now an estimated 7 million wild turkeys in North and Central America with what appears to be a large population right here in Bergen County.

Click here to read more about wild turkeys.