When Turkeys Attack

Any veterinarians out there? How about veterinarians with experience dealing with ornery flocks of wild birds? Because, well, we could use your help.

This week on Car Talk, we heard from Maitland from New Jersey. His bright blue Prius is under siege -- from a flock of wild turkeys, who can't resist pecking away at it. (You can hear Maitland's call right here.)

We thought that, just maybe, the birds were seeing their reflection in the car, and not liking the avian intruders. We suggested a camo car cover, thereby also making Maitland's Prius the first in the country to sport a "hook and bullet" look.

What's your suggestion? Got any clues as to why the flock might be on the rampage? We're all ears.

Yours in avoiding avian attacks,

Tom and Ray

Hey guys.

I am going to stab a guess that since the vehicle in question is a hybrid, there must be something to that vs regular fossil only vehicles. My guess is that there is some sort of high pitched noise (above our level of hearing) that the birds hear that our ears cannot. That is my guess.

Ben Franklin proposed the turkey as our symbol as opposed to the eagle. To Ben Franklin, the turkey was a noble bird and thought it would be a great symbol to represent this country. My guess is that these wild turkeys believe that they do represent America and are attacking the Prius because it doesn’t have an American nameplate. If possible, the caller should locate a Ford Fusion hybrid of the same color as the Prius and park in right next to the Prius. If the wild turkeys still attack the Prius, but leave the Ford alone, this would substantiate my theory.

Maybe these are not really wild turkeys but domesticated and trained turkeys and they have been activated (like a sleeper agent) for what purpose I have not figured out.

The Word “Prius” Literally Means “Turkey Bait”.

I’m wondering if the turkeys were/are affected by the EMF created by the Prius. Apparently, hybrids like the Prius and the new Insight create strong EMFs while operating. Perhaps the turkeys are more sensitive (and annoyed) by the EMF generated by the Prius.

Regarding the turkey pecking at the blue

car. I had a similar experience. We had a
female pet turkey and a friend came to visit
and he had on a bright blue jacket. The
turkey went crazy for him and we have a
picture of him kissing her She
would “drone” at his feet and try to get in
his lap. Male turkeys have bright blue on
their waddle or whatever you call it, and it
attracts the female turkey. Thus, the
reason they only pecked at the blue car.
Alice in Alabama

The male turkey (gobbler) in full breeding plumage has a head with a lot of bright blue color. Other colors are bright red and white. Those three colors will elicit
reaction from any turkey at any time. In fact, the caller was quite lucky another
gobbler didn’t see his car.

At one point, the recommendation was made to trade in the car for another in a different color. If the caller does that, I suggest he avoid bright red or white.

Gonadal Recrudescence and Wild “attack” Turkeys

The Wild Turkey attack on the Prius is an example of gonadal
recrudescence. The following paragraph was posted to the Illinois Birding List last week in the middle of a discussion of similar behavior by female Northern American Cardinals. It provides a good outline of what’s going on in the bird’s brain, or whatever . . . :

“Many birds exhibit a phenomenon known as “gonadal recrudescence” in
the fall. This occurs when length of daylight hits the same
"trigger” length as the daylength in the spring that stimulates the
regrowth of the birds’ gonads. For a brief period in the fall
the bird gets a “jolt” of hormones, which can stimulate singing in
males (many fall flocks of male redwinged blackbirds are full of
singing males, long after the breeding season has ended) and some
elements of nesting behavior such as territorial behavior.� In
this case the female cardinal is protecting her nesting area from the
"other bird." The behavior should fade away pretty quickly as
the days get shorter and her gonads shrink to their winter condition."
LINK: http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/IBET.html
Scoll down to messages with subject: Disturbed Cardinal.

There is plenty of research on this and you guys can prep for your next bird call by googling “gonadal recrudescence”.

I would not want that search in my history, what would people think?

Or…in layman terms…the I was in the pool syndrome. Otherwise known as the George Costanza syndrome.

Right before thanksgiving last year, there was a caller who said that whenever a certain car drove up to his farm, all the sheep would come and baa. I was driving my turkeys to the butcher. Whenever they heard the sheep baaing on the show they all stopped and called back. Obviously, they couldn’t understand why my sheep weren’t on this road trip with them. They sounded so pathetic, that i almost became a vegetarian!
I laughed at the blue Prius attack! I had one tom turkey who would attack me everytime I wore my blue jacket! When a male turkey gets really excited, his snood and much of his face turns a beautiful blue( apparently, a Prius blue!) Young males often band together- all strutting and trying to show whose more beautiful! If the band was all females, maybe they just think this Prius was the coolest thing they ever saw! Here’s a painting of some turkeys showing their stuff!

I didn’t hear the show, but perhaps the caller could put soome magnetic stickers of a picture of a predator on his car in the parking place where the birds attack it.

Or he could invite a tribe of native americans over…oh, never mind.

Hi Guys!

Although you gave a great answer to the guy who’s Prius was being attacked by turkeys (cover it in Camo), I think you missed the real reason they attacked!

We have lots of wild turkeys around my cabin in the NC Mtn’s and I’ve had many opportunities to observe these birds first hand. I can personally attest to the fact that one of the foods they dearly love is wild blueberries! We have several bushes near our cabin and I’ve watched the hens literally attack the ripe blueberries while the Tom turkey stands watch.

I think that bright blue Prius just looked like one humongous Blueberry!

I can just hear that first turkey telling her friends…“really girls, it’s the biggest damn blueberry I’ve ever seen! Not real ripe yet, but huge!”

At least that’s what I think…


Haha! I just heard the 9-1-1 call from the wife of the guy from espn who had an affair with an intern (a whole 'nother conversation on a whole 'nother site) and get this!!! The jilted wife said the cheating gal drove a …ready?..a Blue prius!
hahahhaha the grand turkey of the day!

Turkey-pecked Prius

After laughing my head off at Maitland from New Jersey’s dilemma of his blue Prius under attack from female wild turkeys, it occurred to me that I may (and I stress “may”) have an answer for this odd behavior. I’ve had the pleasure of watching wild turkeys go through their mating rituals, and it just so happens that when the males are aroused, their heads turn a lovely shade of bright blue. So perhaps those hens mistook the Prius for a particularly large and amorous Tom, and, it not being mating season, they were NOT in the mood for any potential hanky-panky and let poor Tom Prius know this in no uncertain terms. OK, it’s a pretty wacky theory, I admit, but turkeys aren’t exactly the smartest creatures on the planet, so . . .

Just a thought!