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photo by Catherine Castle

Today’s blog is a repost of my Soul Mate Authors post from earlier this week. My apologies to those who might have read it already on the SMP site, but some things are just meant to be repeated, and this story, in my humble opinion, is one of those. As such, this post has nothing to do with writing, aside from some good old-fashioned frustration, which we all feel at some point in our careers. It’s about unexpected, and unwanted, guests of the non-human variety. And I don’t mean vampires or werewolves.

We had an unexpected guest for Thanksgiving—a wild turkey my daughter promptly named Hank.

On November 25th my next door neighbor texted me a video of the turkey strolling up his walkway, complete with “gobble, gobble, gobble” on the audio. The video made me laugh, but I didn’t think twice about it, supposing the turkey was just passing through on his escape plan from the local turkey farm. On Thanksgiving Eve day, my hubby discovered the turkey walking around on our deck and shooed him across the patio and through the side yard. We even got a big kick out of it when we discovered on Thanksgiving Eve he’d come to roost on our patio table, especially since my husband is allergic to turkey, and we haven’t had turkey on our table for many, many years. There was a bit of hilarious irony in discovering him on the patio table that evening as we celebrated with our family. The multitude of Thanksgiving gifts the dirty bird left us weren’t as much fun though.

Friday morning I called the SPCA to see if they could tell me who I could call to get rid of a wild turkey, since it was apparent he’d decided to make our balcony his home-sweet-home, and our attempts to frighten him away weren’t working. They sent me to the state wildlife department, who told me it would be against the law to injure or kill the bird as it is a protected species. Considering the holiday’s favorite meal, this seemed a bit incongruous to me. However, it was a moot point, since I don’t have a hunting license, and shooting a gun in the city limits is illegal. Then she routed me to a game officer who had his phone set to voice mail. After several calls to the officer and a weekend of picking up poop, I called the state wildlife department again.

When I asked how to get in touch with someone who would answer his phone, and come trap the bird and relocate it, she said, “Oh, they don’t do that.”

Really? I thought. Couldn’t the person I talked to the first time have told me that? I wasted three days letting that stupid bird roost on my patio table, thinking I was making it easy for the game warden to trap it! Roast turkey was beginning to look tastier and tastier, even if the hubby was allergic. I could round up enough people who like turkey to make short work of the bothersome bird.

“How about if I get a hunter to come shoot it with a tranquilizing dart, since I live in the city and shooting a gun is prohibited?” I asked.

“Can’t do that. Wild turkey hunting season ended yesterday,” she said.

Of course it did.

“And the officer probably isn’t answering your calls because deer hunting season is open and he takes his calls in order of priority,” she added.

Obviously, my bird problem was way down on the list.

By this time, I could feel my blood pressure rising. “So, it can’t be killed, legally. The game warden won’t trap it and relocate it. And I can’t get him to call me back to tell me how to get rid of it. Just what am I supposed to do about this dirty bird?”

“Let me give you the number of the main office,” she said. “Someone will answer your call, I promise.”


So, she gave me yet another number, where I did talk to a real person who suggested I yell at the bird and wave my arms around, basically harass it every time I see it. Really? Who has time for that? Besides, further research indicated the whole neighborhood would have to harass the bird on a regular basis to make it move on to greener pastures. If I don’t have time to chase it around the yard, and shoo it off the balcony every fifteen minutes while it roosts from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., I certainly don’t have time to organize a neighborhood-wide turkey shoo fest.

If that didn’t work, I could squirt water on it with the water hose. It’s December here, and the temps are down in the 30s. I don’t think ice flows through plastic hoses. Besides, the spigot isn’t anywhere near my balcony.

Then he suggested I bring the patio table into the house. I didn’t think much about that suggestion. I’d already removed the chairs since he’d tried to roost on those. The balcony does have a floor. Would he suggest I take that in, too?

His last suggestion was to call an animal nuisance control trapper to take the bird away. That suggestion made the most sense. At least the dirty bird would be gone from the neighborhood. This is what I wanted the game warden to do. At no cost to me. It seems that would not be the case.

My yard, which is not in the country, seems to be a critter magnet. In the ten years we’ve lived here, I’ve had more animal problems than I’ve had in all the other homes I’ve owned. A pregnant doe sat on my ornamental grass and killed it, then she mowed down my hostas and ate my day lilies. Bucks have wandered through the yard knocking over my benches. I’ve had raccoons wintering under the deck. Rabbits have nibbled on my garden. Nine bunnies residing in a rabbit hole in the front yard cost me 60 bucks to remove. Squirrels have taken a bite out of every ripe tomato in the garden before I could harvest them. A couple summers ago, a hornets’ nest cost $165 to destroy. They kept stinging the hubby whenever he went outside. Last spring we looked out the window and saw a feral cat family of a mama and four kittens who’d taken up residence under the deck, and now . . . Hank.

An apartment on the 26th floor, with a Juliet balcony not big enough to house a flowerpot and a porcupine barrier on the railing to keep off birds, is beginning to look real inviting to me.


So, what about you? Do you have any interesting wildlife frustration stories? The kind where a human wins? Heck, at this point I’ll even take funny.


Humm, maybe there is a story in all this rambling after all.