This all started about three months ago when I was driving with my wife west along Skymark Avenue in Mississauga when she stopped telling me how much she loved and admired me and started yelling, “Stop! Stop!”
As I’m an eyes-on-the-road-all-the-time kind of driver, I yelled back: “Stop where?” And she said, “Over there! There’s a huge bird over there.”
So I turned left into a driveway and stopped. “Where?” I asked her, ever so calmly.
“There,” she said, pointing at this – yes – big bird that was standing on a patch of grass in the middle of a stretch of pavement that connected several industrial-style buildings.
The bird looked like a turkey. Wanting a closer look, we got out of our vehicle – I was testing a Mercedes-Benz G 63 SUV at the time – and approached it, slowly.
There was another guy there, taking pictures of the bird, which was just standing and looking around. Before my wife asked, the fellow said, “Yes, he’s a turkey-turkey,” as distinct from a chicken or a goose.
“Let’s leave him alone,” I said. “I don’t want to upset him. He’s probably escaped from a processing plant around here, or something. Let’s let him enjoy his freedom.”
The fellow taking the pictures agreed. “He can’t fly, so he won’t get far. Somebody will probably come and pick him up.”
As we left, my wife said, “I think I’ll call him ‘Jack.’ That way, the next time I see him, I won’t say, ‘Stop, there’s a huge bird over there,’ I’ll just say, ‘There’s Jack,’ and you’ll know what I mean.
My wife likes to name the birds and animals we come across. For years, we would see a German Shepherd guarding a junkyard near Mavis Rd. and Central Parkway in Mississauga. He was a real junkyard dog, so she called him ‘Bubba.’ On a highway near Sutton, a donkey is often in a field and she calls him ‘Don Kay.’ She’ll say, on days when it’s really cold, “‘Don Kay’ is out today without a coat. I’ll have to speak to his owners.” And I’ll say, “Yeah, okay.”
A few days after we first met Jack the Turkey, we were driving along the same road – my wife’s work is in the area – and here he was again, but this time he was out in the middle of the street, acting very menacingly toward cars. Pecking at them.
But he didn’t look like our Jack. His neck was longer, he wasn’t as heavy in the middle and he looked more sleek – a little bit like a Canada Goose but not, if you get my drift. I told my wife he looked like a wild turkey. I’m not an expert, but he looked like the label on a bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon, of which I do have knowledge, although not recently.
Whatever, we didn’t want him to get hurt, or worse, so we called Animal Services, who said there wasn’t really anything they could do. “We could send somebody out to shoo it off the road, but that’s about all,” the woman said. “It probably has a mate and they could have a nest in the area,” she added, before hanging up.
Two days later, we saw it again. Except, there were two this time. One was eating in the boulevard and the other was out on the road, playing chicken with the traffic. “It’s Desi and Lucy,” exclaimed my bird-naming wife. “Just like Animal Services said.”
But that was the one and only time we saw them together. I saw Desi - I mean, I think it was Desie - a bunch of times after that: on the road, even in parking lots, peck, peck, pecking away at cars. And then, around the first of December, he disappeared. I feared the worst.
You can imagine how I felt the other day, then, when I read the following story in the Mississauga News, datelined Dec. 31, which was New Year’s Eve:
“Watch out for Tom today, he's in a 'fowl' mood,” wrote reporter Alexandra Heck.
“Peel police are fielding complaints about an ‘angry turkey’ blocking traffic near Matheson Boulevard and Explorer Drive in Mississauga (which is in the neighborhood where we’ve been seeing it).
“Officers say the bird was pecking at cars and asked drivers to proceed with caution through the area.
“Police attended the scene along with Animal Services, but the bird managed to escape.
"‘Our feathered friend evaded capture with its impressive 40 km/h speed,’" police tweeted.
That’s right: 40 km/h. That’s on foot. Wild turkeys can fly as fast as 50 km/h, if they feel threatened.
And speaking of feeling threatened. Desi is likely seeing his reflection in the paint on those cars and thinks he’s fighting off an enemy intruding in his territory.
Who’s maybe also thinking of taking a crack at Lucy, too.
Norris McDonald is a retired Toronto Star editor who continues to write for Wheels under contract
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