Wild turkeys shake a tail feather on Toronto doorsteps
Upper Beaches resident Leah Parisella recently peered out her back door to find one sitting pretty on her deck. (Leah Parisella/Facebook)
Published Friday, May 24, 2019 4:23PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 24, 2019 5:09PM EDT
Toronto turkeys are gobbling up attention city-wide - as the giant birds show up on urban doorsteps and homeowners flock to social media to tell the tale.
“Did Thanksgiving come early?” tweeted one Etobicoke resident, who caught one of the wild birds pecking on a porch this week.
Dan Grant leads jogging tours through the city and almost literally ran into a turkey strutting along a path near Ontario Place recently.
“I didn’t want to get too close to freak it out,” he told CTV News Toronto, shocked at how big it was. “It was definitely probably up to my thigh.”
“We have an increasing population of wild turkeys,” confirmed Jody Allair, a birder and biologist with Bird Studies Canada.
Turkey numbers have rebounded thanks to conservation efforts, he said, and as the flocks grow, more of them are settling in urban environments.
The avian star of the Christie Pits area is among them. Affectionately dubbed “Rose” by residents, the wild turkey landed in Coun. Mike Layton’s ward a couple of years ago.
“People thought it had fallen off the back of a livestock truck,” Layton told CTVNews Toronto.
His office has received numerous calls but few complaints; residents “really do like the notion that nature has a place in our city,” he said.
But the turkeys aren’t just wild in the west.
East-enders report seeing the big birds in their own backyards.
Upper Beaches resident Leah Parisella recently peered out her back door to find one sitting pretty on her deck.
That’s not unusual at this time of year, according to Toronto and Region Conservation Authority manager Danny Moro.
He says male turkeys are attracted to the colour red, and sometimes venture into yards after bright red objects.
“They have excellent eyesight,” said Moro. “They pick up these colours during breeding season.”
In the past three months 311 has fielded more than 100 calls reporting wild turkey sightings: Torontonians concerned about turkeys in traffic, public parks, and even laying eggs in backyard nests.
But officials don’t have a tally on Toronto turkeys. The Toronto Wildlife Centre doesn’t track turkey numbers, and so it’s hard to say whether they’re the same few turkeys wandering around the city or whether there are dozens - or more.
“It’s possible it’s one gang of turkeys but it’s also possible there’s several groups of turkeys going through peoples’ backyards,” said Allair. “They can be show-stoppers.”
Although the birds can fly, they don’t migrate. They do forage where there is food, and so officials advise against feeding them.
They say no harm, no fowl; though no shortage of surprise to those who spot them.
“What is a wild turkey doing in Toronto and in my backyard?” tweeted Scott Savard. “Honest to god, never thought turkeys could fly.”