No thanks, Mr. Gobbles.
Picture this: You’re a good-hearted soul, the kind of person who spends your time volunteering with your local humane society. You clearly love animals a lot, and you want to help your local community. At the end of your shift, you gear up and get on your motorcycle to go home. Things look like your average trip at first—until you meet a real-life Angry Bird.
You’re sitting at a stop light, in the left turn lane, waiting to turn left. You’re first in line, and this aggressive wild turkey decides it wants to go to war. Dinosaur DNA apparently isn’t far away in this birb’s mind as it rushes you with a big wing display, trying to scare you off. You kick out at it with your left leg, trying to get it to leave you alone.
That’s what happened to one rider in Whitby, Ontario, shortly after leaving a local humane society at the end of their shift. Maybe they smelled like other animals at the shelter, and the turkey didn’t like it? It’s also possible that the turkey was just being a jerk.
I see a lot of confrontational Canada geese in my area, but not too many wild turkeys. Still, they’re apparently enough of a problem in some places that there are entire state and provincial official web pages devoted to instructing the public on how to defuse avian conflict—particularly with large birds like turkeys and geese.
For example, the state of Massachusetts suggests that you “Don’t let turkeys intimidate you.” It goes on to say, “Don’t hesitate to scare or threaten a bold, aggressive turkey with loud noises, swatting with a broom, or water sprayed from a hose. A dog on a leash is also an effective deterrent.”
Somehow, I don’t think that’s what the phrase ‘loud pipes save lives’ was supposed to mean, but maybe turkeys were a known and omnipresent threat when it was first coined? Massachusetts also adds that “turkeys may respond aggressively to shiny objects and their own reflection” It’s hard to tell from this video, but it doesn’t look like this bike was overly shiny. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that Canadian wild turkeys are not more polite.
For what it’s worth, the province of Ontario also has a page dedicated to “preventing and managing conflicts with birds.” Spoiler alert: some do involve having a valid Outdoors Card and appropriate permits and licenses with which to go hunting turkeys during open season. Hiring a wildlife agent is also an option—but again, kind of hard to do when you’re in the moment and you’re kickboxing a turkey from your saddle. Side note: Does that make it a … kickboxer engine? No? OK, I’ll get my coat, that joke was terrible.
As Kate advised, probably the best thing to do if this happens to you is “get off your bike and put your hands in the air; that stupid Butterball will run.”