Susan's Blog

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

I actually wrote this column two days ago, when the following series of events happened. This was before I got home and my blogger friend Don had sent me this link. Then Ned heard about this same issue on NPR (the cop interviewed in the story is my cop! Although as you will see, his advice is useless.) Turkey is in the air…

Opinion: Close encounters of the bird kind

Susan Senator/Edge of Town

Wed Oct 24, 2007, 03:34 PM EDT

Brookline – Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because she was trying to get away from the wild turkey that was attacking her.

Yes, this is no joke. If I had only gone to Athan’s, which I love, with its gorgeous pastries, free Internet and foamy lattes in smooth white cups, none of this would have happened. As it was, I was crossing Winthrop at Beacon, trying to get a coffee at the Starbucks for a change, because I wanted more of a walk before my 8:30 appointment. As I got to the corner, this thing ran over to me. Being used to the big, relatively mellow Canada geese at the Reservoir that only stare, honk and get in your way, I just kept walking. But it followed me! I walked faster. So did it. I ran. It ran, too. It made a gobbling noise, which sounded menacing: It was about up to my waist, and very close — only 2 feet away from me.

I swung my bag at it to scare it off, and it rushed at me. I screamed. Passersby were stopping, looking, laughing, but not helping. They were only calling out useless advice. “Stand still,” a man offered, but I noticed he did not come any closer. I did as he advised, and the bird stood still, moving its head from side to side, trying to fix me in its crosshair-vision, reminding me all too much of the raptor attack in “Jurassic Park.” No one was really all that helpful, particularly the man who stopped his car — middle of Beacon while traffic was moving — and yelled out, “Hey, President Bush is visiting again!” Very funny, but get this turkey away from me so I can go back to living my harried life.

I stared at the thing, beginning to panic. What did it want? Why me? Why was it here? And of course: Who know they were so ugly? Red knobby head, pink around the black, beady eyes and a strange tuft of black hair coming out of its chest. It may have been offended by my horrified stare.

As I plotted to make my escape, I wondered a little about global warming; was this some kind of result of nature out of balance? Or was this a result of hunting being way out of vogue around here? Maybe this bird was sent by the anti-override factions in town? No, that was too ridiculous a thought, even for me. After all, the override isn’t even on the ballot yet. It was also too early for Thanksgiving Day protests from animal rights activists.

No, this was not politically motivated turkey tactics. I mused about the deer epidemic just about everywhere, how my mother can’t grow anything anymore because of the “damned deer.” And we even have bunnies in our yard now who are so bold they don’t even run away when I take pictures. So now, wild birds. What was next, mountain lions? Siberian tigers? I knew there were bears in some New Hampshire yards, because one keeps attacking my father-in-law’s bird feeder. That is some scary stuff to a city girl. I came to Boston to fight for parking spaces and get rejected from Harvard grad school, not to battle with Big Bird on crack.

Finally, a policeman came over, and it was as if the turkey realized its guilt. It skittered away like a bank robber in a poorly planned heist. I was so grateful for that policeman that I almost hugged him — but I wanted to get away before the bird changed its mind. I did ask him what that was all about and he said, “I don’t know, do you have a ham sandwich in your pants or something?” I knew there must be a joke in there somewhere, because I was happy to see that cop, but alas, I was in no mood to laugh.

I trudged up to Starbucks, found a huge line, and realized I had no more time anyway. Moral of this story: I should have gone to Athan’s, an independent small business, rather than cave into the easy allure of the corporate chain. No, perhaps there is no moral here, except what my father always used to say, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.”

Susan Senator is author of “Making Peace with Autism,” awarded the Exceptional Parent Magazine Symbol of Excellence. She can be reached at


Wow! Great story, great writing.

— added by Em's Mom on Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 9:03 am

Last year 3 turkeys chased me on my jog through Spooner street. I was running at a full sprint – 2 miles into the run! – and all I could hear behind me was 6 claws running like robots changing direction as I changed direction. After 100 yards they gave up. Unfortunately, I think the turkeys are better on the table than on Beacon Street.

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 9:43 am

Who are you, Brave, fast Anonymous Brookline Runner? What a scary story that is!!! I think I know what to be for Halloween this year, the scariest thing of all: Mad Turkey!
(But no, you can’t wear sequins if you do that…)

— added by Susan Senator on Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 9:49 am

It seems that turkeys (at least “city turkeys) only chase women. Huh. I wonder why.

I have no snarky comment to make about turkeys only chasing women, although I’m sure there’s humor to be made there somewhere.

— added by Don on Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 10:02 am

Buy, the anti-Repblican jokes flow fast and furious in Brookline! Have you thought that maybe he was a Republican (the last one in MA after we left. He is running against Teddy this year) and THAT is what he was mad about. He was gonna go kick some latte-sippin’ bookstore-browsin’ liberal ass in Brookline and it was only the appearance of The Man that kept your gorgeous little hiney from having a big three-toed footprint on it. You know how much respect that we have for local law enforcement.

Now, had you not instituted complete gun-control in your sleepy little burg, you would have had THE TOOLS to deal with THE PROBLEM and you, Ned, Nat, Max and Ben would be feasting on some wild conservative turkey that night.

Over and out!

— added by Andrew on Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 10:17 am

Andrew! You just admitted that the Republican in Massachusetts is a turkey! Slam dunk!

You know what I just ate for lunch????

— added by Susan Senator on Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 12:36 pm

Wow–I had read about wild turkeys in Brookline, but I wouldn’t have thought they’d be in Washington Square. Weird.

— added by Laura on Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 2:48 pm

Man oh man, I couldn’t believe that NPR broadcast, and the animal control officer (bless his heart) could only recommend that you wallop the turkey with your purse, which is okay if the turkey is attacking you. The turkey’s can’t be relocated? Madness.

Boston is hard enough to drive through, pedestrian threats you do not need.

All kidding aside, what would happen if a wild turkey chased Nat or some other child? That’s no joke.

— added by Lisa on Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 3:45 pm

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