Saralee Perel

Award-winning columnist, Saralee Perel, can be reached at 

Her novel, Raw Nerves, is now available as a paperback and an e-book on

Fowl Play in Our Back Yard

When I think about ordering takeout food to be delivered to our home around Thanksgiving, a live turkey standing at our front door does not usually come to mind.

One morning, our dog was barking at the front window. I looked out to see a gigantic wild turkey on our door step. I called out to Bob, who was sleeping. "Bob? There's a turkey at the door."

When he came to see, there were three of them on the step. Hearing them pecking on the storm door, funnyman Bob said, "They're knocking. Let them in."

Later, I learned they were pecking because they saw their reflections in the glass door and figured they had to get those "other" turkeys out of their territory. Since the team in the reflection wouldn't leave, the real ones wouldn't either.

I e-mailed E. Vernon Laux, a wildlife expert, who wrote back, "They attack dogs and cats and even people."

So, not only are they huge, they're aggressive.

I am 5 feet tall. Turkeys can be 4½ feet tall. It is not pleasant looking eye to eye at a turkey.

Petrified to walk out my front door, I now open it very slowly and stick my head out. To scare them away, I holler, "Anybody there? Yooooohooooo," which once made a nearby screech owl divebomb my head.

I told Vernon I was frightened for our two dogs and added that one is a border collie. He replied, "Don't worry about the border collie. The turkeys should worry about that dog!"

This leads me to another ridiculous animal situation. Becky is the only stupid border collie in the universe. She's terrified of the turkeys. When she sees them, she screams. I've never heard a dog shriek like a human. You couldn't tell the difference between her scream and Janet Leigh's in the shower scene from "Psycho."

While Becky's screaming, she runs backward until she smashes into a tree. She doesn't learn from this. She continues running backward, keeping her eye on the turkeys until she slams into another tree. Meanwhile, the turkeys just stand there looking at her as if she's the birdbrain.

By the time she crashes into enough trees so that she's near the back door, she does a quick spin and makes a mad dash inside the house where, still screaming, she scrambles to hide under Bob's desk.

So now I've got this new phobia. When I leave the house, I race to our truck, constantly scanning the yard for lurking turkeys. They roost 20 to 40 feet up in the trees. Not only am I scared to death of them chasing me, I'm expecting a turkey to drop on my head. I can imagine calling Bob at work from my cell phone. "Bob? There's a turkey on my head."

I researched how to humanely get them the heck away from here. I called a local wildlife place hoping it would come get them. But it wouldn't, saying it's just as much the turkeys' territory as ours.

On the National Wildlife Federation website, suggestions (I am serious) include: "Whitewash all buildings so they don't roost," as well as setting off "propane cannons."

One other wildlife expert gave me this ever-so-practical idea: "The only thing I can think of are those machines that make the sound of a gunshot every once in a while. But if they get the drift that nothing is really there shooting at them, they'll probably just go sit on the machine."

Great. I'm surprised someone hasn't suggested I get the stealth bomber to roar around our backyard in circles, dropping dynamite at 10-minute intervals. Now I know why Bush didn't find any weapons of mass destruction. Everybody in the "Turkeys Are Fair Game" club is hoarding them.

When I Googled "Wild turkeys on Cape Cod," I found that the Indian Ponds Association newsletter had a large section about turkeys. YAY! Finally, I'd find out how to get them out of here. What did I see instead? A picture of a wild turkey looking at its reflection in the glass, while standing on the porch of Marstons Mills residents John and Betsey Godley.

The association's suggestion? Enjoy the turkeys. I may take it up on that advice, but not in the spirit in which it was intended.