Did you catch the spring spectacle of male turkeys gobbling and strutting their stuff to attract the attention of hen turkeys? Males often court in groups, with the dominant male gobbling, spreading his tail feathers, drumming / booming, and spitting. In my neighborhood there’s a huge flock with a least a half dozen of them going after the females. While it might be an interesting sight, don’t be fooled. Wild turkeys are not to be trifled with!
Turkeys are not native to California, though two wild turkey sub-species are now well established here. Considered by some as nuisance pests, they can be destructive, and aggressive males (called toms) can occasionally charging, and threatening people, and damaging automobiles by “attacking” their reflection or jumping on cars. Their nonstop searching for food can destroy gardens, raised beds, new landscape plantings, and even turf.
Turkey damage may be aesthetic, such as soil disturbances caused by turkeys foraging for food among garden and landscape plants, or economic, such as stains left from turkey droppings on decks and porches that then require reconditioning. Click here for more information about managing wild turkeys.
If you don’t want turkeys in your garden, don’t feed them. The novelty of the birds sometimes inspires direct handouts, but more often they find spilled bird seed or unsecured garbage.
The other thing you want to avoid is letting wild turkeys roost on your property. They usually roost in trees, but they can often be spotted on a roof or deck in Marin. The good news is they are relatively easy to move along. The Humane Society reports that making loud noises or giving them a squirt with a hose will usually do the trick. Along with the loud noises or hose squirt, the Humane Society also suggests popping open an umbrella, installing a motion activated sprinkler, throwing tennis balls, or waiving your arms while blowing on a whistle.