An increasing number of wild turkey sightings within the Northglenn city limits has community members wondering why the birds are hanging around — and where they’ve come from.
Puzzled residents turned to the city’s Facebook page to post photos of the birds and to ask questions:
“Do the birds know hunting season is coming up?”
“Are they deliberately taking refuge within Northglenn neighborhoods?”
Although turkeys are known to be relatively smart animals, according to the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife, the birds are hanging out in Northglenn for the same reasons most people choose to live there — it’s a pretty good life.
“They migrate to these urban areas for security, food, water, open space, undeveloped land and greenbelts,” wildlife department officials responded, via Facebook. “With the little amount of snow we have had this year they had no reason to move on, and with standing grass still full of seeds and backyard gardens, food is not an issue.”
Northglenn resident Jennifer Fowler received a surprise visit from an adult make turkey, when he took up residency in her backyard for several days. Grown males can weigh up to 30 pounds, but, according to Fowler, that didn’t stop him from jumping the fences to get into her yard.
“He was roosting in the neighbor’s tree, which is probably 60 feet tall,” she said. “Then one day I looked out the back window and there he was, hanging out by the patio furniture. He drank some water from the dog’s dish, and tasted some of the dog food, which the dog didn’t like, then went over to the garden area and made himself at home.”
“My husband is a hunter so he got out the turkey caller, of course, and called to him through the window,” said Fowler. “The bird put on quite a show for us and now our 2-year-old daughter thinks turkeys are always in our backyard.”
Colorado Department of Wildlife Public Information Officer Jennifer Churchill said the birds are the common Merriam wild turkey, and have been in the area for years.
“They have always been there,” she said. “We just don’t always see them, and they are an indication of a healthy habitat.”
CPW advises the birds may stay in the area until hatchlings are raised and can fly, but that increased summer activities will probably cause them to move to rural areas.
While the birds are beautiful and have been welcomed by community members, Churchill wants to remind people that they are still wild animals.
“They can be aggressive, so if you run across one in your path clap your hands and make loud noises,” she said. “That should chase them off. Or just go around them.”
The thriving turkey population is an indicator that the birds have found an environment they can succeed in, and, according to Churchill, they should be left to their own foraging.
“Please don’t feed them,” she said. “They are succeeding naturally, even if it is within the city, and feeding them takes away their natural instincts.”