The strange occurrences soon leapt from amusing local chatter to national newspaper headlines.
It's not been unusual for packs of wild turkeys to block area traffic. But the turkey terrorists of 2009 began peeking into windows of homes and soon disrupted mail delivery.
In recent years, many vehicles on Sheldon Road and South Ferry Street have encountered up to six or seven wild turkeys in the road.
“You had to stop — they wouldn’t move,” a Grand Haven Tribune newspaper carrier said.
In April 2009, the face-off began when turkeys menaced postal worker Doug Cody, making things difficult for him on his delivery rounds. Cody was delivering mail one day when he spotted the birds, which charged him.
“They saw me down the street. One kind of ran toward me, the other two joined in, and all three of them went on a dead run,” Cody told the Grand Haven Tribune.
Cody took refuge on a house porch and called his postmaster.
“I said, ‘Hey, I’m up on this porch and these turkeys aren’t letting me leave,’ you know, and there was silence there for a second, and then he heard them in the background,” Cody told the Tribune. “(The postmaster) laughed so hard, she dropped the phone. And I’m thinking, ‘Hey, wait a minute, this isn’t funny.’”
Cody soon discovered he was not alone. Other Grand Haven mail carriers had also been terrorized by the wild turkeys. As many as nine turkeys in number had chased mail carriers around neighborhoods and gathered at the doors of mail trucks that enter the area.
“They’ll peck at the back of the truck, and spread their wings, and make gobbling noises and try to chase it away,” Cody said.
Postman Jeremy Bogerd was pecked in the leg. He said the turkeys were “super-aggressive.” Bogerd has been on the route for a decade and explained he had watched the turkeys’ numbers grow over the years, but said this is the first time they’ve chased him.
“As soon as they see us, they’re after us,” Bogerd told the Grand Haven Tribune. “They’ll chase you as soon as they see the truck. I would rather get attacked by a dog sometimes than these turkeys.”
Grand Haven Postmaster Barb Kiehborth told reporters the turkeys had chased four mail carriers.
Mail carriers were issued a chemical repellant spray to carry, but Bogerd said the turkeys’ heads are too small to hit. Cody instead carries a club for protection.
It was reported the turkeys displayed no fear of humans and freely walked into residential yards, onto porches and beneath decks. Residents interviewed agreed that the wild birds, which weigh as much as 25 pounds and have sharp beaks, seem to pose no threat to anyone but the postal workers.
Ruth Bell reported that targeting postal workers is unusual.
“My granddaughter was laying on the grass here and they walked right around her,” Bell said. “So the only people they attack is the mailman.”
Some residents in the “turkey zone” theorize that it is the color blue of the postal uniforms that the turkeys don’t care for, but that doesn’t explain why they also attacked the mail truck.
In 2004, Eastown neighbors took to calling a turkey in their neighborhood “Gibbley” or “Gobbelle,” but it wasn’t reported to be troublesome. However, one neighbor, in a letter to the neighborhood association, wrote: “He chased our two (quite fierce) dachshunds, Muenchen and Dassel, back into their doggy door.”
Mail carrier Tim Partee said he saw the Eastown turkey almost daily. He described a turkey strutting down Lake Drive that was larger than a beach ball, standing about 3 feet tall at the shoulders and generally good-natured, although somewhat suspicious of humans and intolerant of other animals.
In 2012, Edna Geisler of Oakland County told the Detroit Free Press that she had been stalked and harassed by a 25-pound turkey. Geisler, who nicknamed the bird "Godzilla,” told a reporter the terrorist turkey at times wouldn't allow her to exit her front door, essentially making her a prisoner in her own home.
Will the terrorist turkeys return to our quiet city this spring? No one knows. But, if they do, the media will surely gobble it up.