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Writing and Reporting by Jenna Duncan

Wild turkeys patrol city sidewalks Raising curiosity, causing gridlock

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Published on April 6,2011 in The Boston Globe, page B3

After hearing about it from customers for a week, Karen Henderson finally saw the legend yesterday, a live turkey on Commonwealth Avenue, near Washington Street in Brighton.

Up to four at a time have been spotted recently in the area, causing walkers to gawk and traffic to be gridlocked at times.

“This one is not shy,” said Henderson, 54, an employee at Melvin Pharmacy, where the turkey could be found most of this afternoon. “It’s pretty calm.”

This recent Brighton spotting marks the start of turkey mating season, expected to last through early May, said Marion Larson, a biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Based on its picture, she identified the bird as a male.

“Sometimes hormones do strange things to birds,” Larson said. “We get calls about odd places they’re showing up or other odd behavior.”

According to Larson’s department, there are 18,000 to 20,000 wild turkeys in the state.

In these situations, officials can step in only if a wild animal is sick or injured, Larson said. If they are removed, the birds will probably return.

“It’s not always that easy,” she said. “These birds are going to return. They have wings.”

Henderson and others have been feeding the turkey bread to encourage it to stay out of the road. But feeding the bird, Larson warned, may encourage it to stay or return next year.

Police officers were unsuccessful in attempts to shoo it back to the sidewalk yesterday, but Larson approved of their methods. “Reminding them that you are in charge or at least are somewhat of a threat or unpredictable, that’s the way it needs to be,” she said.

Customers have told Henderson they have seen up to four together; and last year a group of three hung around the area around the same time of year. She is concerned about the turkey getting caught in traffic or not finding its way home.

“It’s very content,” she said. “I’m just hoping it finds its way back to where it belongs.”

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Written by jdunccc

April 6, 2011 at 9:05 am

Posted in The Boston Globe

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