While many households will be cooking a bird (or two) this Thursday for Thanksgiving, turkeys in the San Francisco suburbs are having the last laugh.
Decades ago, the fowl were introduced to the area for hunting, and since then they have multiplied and run amok in certain neighborhoods. Over the last few years, since drought has been a problem, the wild turkeys have appeared more in residential areas, seeking food, water, and safety.
Some people actually like having them around. Darlene Devon Andrade wrote on the SFGate Facebook page: “The neighborhood embraces them. We are all very careful when driving and let them roam freely in our streets and yards so they can eat and be happy!”
But others are unhappy with the trail of destruction that they leave. Rick Sundberg wrote on the Facebook page that the turkeys ruined his pool cover and “constantly attack themselves in their own reflection on the sliding glass door, trashing the screen doors, ruining the roofing etc.” He added, “They do real damage. Not to mention turkey crap everywhere and increased numbers of predators like coyotes, bobcats, badgers, raccoons etc because of their presence.”
Nicole Greely shared a picture and wrote: “They are Ok in the open space but when they take over your yard and poop everywhere they can get territorial and nasty.”
People often have to clean up after them, while others have had their high-end cars destroyed by a bird pecking at its reflection. The turkeys are large — around 20 pounds — and can defend themselves if they feel threatened. While some people have found clever ways to keep them off of their property (like sprinklers or loud noises), others have gone so far as to secure a permit to kill “nuisance birds.” Such permits are issued about 60 times a year.
Dan Gluesenkamp, executive director of the California Native Plant Society, told the L.A. Times: “They move across the landscape, 20 or 30 of them, elbow to elbow, scratching every inch of the land. They eat every creepy crawlie, every salamander, every lizard, every snake, every nut, every acorn, every wildflower seed, every quail egg.” This can be a problem for the preservation of native plants and animals.
The turkeys of NorCal might be a nuisance, but it seems as though they have avoided the fate of many of their thick-breasted cousins this holiday season.