Have you ever wondered why there are so many wild turkeys roaming around Brookline? Actually, they were virtually wiped out across Massachusetts in the 19th century. The recovery began in 1972 when Massachusetts wildlife officials started to trap wild turkeys in New York and release them in the Berkshires and other parts of the state. Thanks to these efforts, the population has rebounded to over 25,000 today.

But the turkeys did not stay in the rural areas to which they had been introduced. Rather, they ventured into, and in fact thrived in suburban areas. These birds feed off of the trash, compost, birdseed, and food scraps we leave outside.

Unfortunately, these birds are large and can be quite intimidating! Although they usually mind their own business, they can act aggressively at times. Acting fearfully around them can establish you as a subordinate in their pecking order - and only cause further aggression.

The town of Brookline prepared this flyer with tips for preventing negative interactions with wild turkeys, and the state also provides guidance on this page. Among the suggestions:

  • Do not back away or turn your back
  • Step toward the turkey and act confidently
  • Do not feed the turkeys!

Most turkeys are not a threat, though, and will completely ignore you. If you do come across a threatening animal, contact the Brookline Police Department at 617-730-2222.

Otherwise, you can have some fun and participate in the Annual Wild Turkey Brood Survey! MassWildlife asks for your help each summer, June through August, in counting the birds. You can help by reporting individual observations online, or by printing a form to help you keep track over the course of the summer. The directions can be found here. Keep your eyes open this summer and let them know just how many turkeys you see in your neighborhood!

Thank you Hilary Heyison, my amazing assistant (and cousin) for helping research this blog post.

Photo modified from Ruth Caron on Unsplash


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AVI KAUFMAN is a top broker who lives in Brookline, Massachusetts and works there and surrounding communities, assisting buyers and sellers of residential property. He is building a unique practice dedicated to serving the best interest of his clients - see how he's different.