My continuing saga of being attacked by fowl.
My friend James and I were mountain biking (hey remember when everyone did that!) in Alum Rock Park in San Jose. We ground our way up to the top of the biggest hill in the park and stopped to catch our breath. (which probably looked a lot like gasping for air, doubled-over and trying not to puke.)
As I was gulping watered down Gatorade out of a Camelbak, I noticed something emerge from the tree line and begin strutting towards us. A very large and determined looking Tom turkey.
“That’s weird, there’s a turkey coming over here,” I said. (How often does one utter those words in life I wonder.)
“What does it want? It doesn’t seem scared, maybe people feed it?” James offered.
The turkey was not afraid, and it wasn’t looking for food. It was looking for a fight. The turkey wanted us to get the hell off his hill.
When the centerpiece of Thanksgiving got in close, he puffed up and started doing this weird half jump strutting thing, then his eyes pinned and went red and he lunged/flew at us. James swore and whipped up his bike to hold the thing off. This flummoxed the bird for a moment, but it didn’t give up gobbling and flapping at us. We were half-scared, half laughing as the big tom kept trying to flank us, or charge straight ahead. We backed slowly down the hill keeping our bikes between us and the maniacal bird. If someone had captured us on video that day, we would have won America’s Funniest Home Videos.
Finally, we escaped what must have been his perceived turf. Victorious again the turkey went off to brag to the other woodland creatures, safe in the knowledge that hunting isn’t allowed in the park.
We rode our bikes to a ranger station to warn them of the menace. As we pulled up, we saw a large, homemade sign with a picture of the bird stapled to it. “BEWARE OF “TERRIBLE TOM” THE TURKEY AT THE TOP OF THE HILL.” I shit you not, that’s what it said. I may have to write the children’s book at some point.
I left a note in the suggestions box. “Please post turkey warning signs at BOTH ends of the trail.”
Disgruntled Birds, Part…Whatever – Birds just hate me, can we agree on that?
Back in college, I had a job at a water treatment plant. Yes, it stinks, and yes, you get used to it. Also, fun fact for the kiddies: the three things that seem to survive the water treatment process and get sent out to the ponds for the algae to work on are: The rings around condoms, plastic tampon injectors, and tomato seeds. So the banks of our treatment ponds were covered in thriving tomato plants, and the other stuff, which you shouldn’t flush, earth haters.
My job was to collect water samples at various stations, and then do a chemistry thing (official terminology) to determine the dissolved oxygen content of the waste water. While I was out there minding my own business, a Canadian Goose hit the ground about two feet away from me like a damned artillery shell. Scared the living shit out of me! I knew our location was infested with geese, and if they had goslings they would charge our trucks, but until then I was unaware of Kamikaze activity.
I had a moment with the dead goose. This was pre-bird-flu, so I didn’t run screaming for a hazmat suit. Actually, it was near the holidays and I considered bringing it home as a Christmas Goose, but I figured mom would freak. Also working against the Christmas Goose plan; I hadn’t a clue what it would take to pluck the thing but it looked like quite a job and, even pre-bird-flu, it seemed unwise to consume free waterfowl that had fallen from the sky. Maybe if I was a starving coyote…
Anyway, I asked my supervisor about it and she said “Oh, there’s an area nearby where people hunt and, every once in a while, a wounded or dead-but-doesn’t-know-it goose will just keep flying for a while and we find it on the ponds.”
I could picture that goose, migrating along happily when “BAM” it takes a few pellets of shot. Like a brave, or crazy, Kamikaze pilot he begins the desperate search for revenge. With all his goose fortitude he spots a human on the ground, rolls over and, as the cliché dive bomber sound from an old war movie screams through his bird brain, he blacks out just at the crucial moment and misses connecting with my skull as I’m gathering water. Thank God for bad aim or I’d just be another statistic in the history of man vs. fowl. That or I would have to wander the earth explaining my extravagant choice in feathered hats.
Next Time…Whiskey and Parrots, not a Jimmy Buffet cover band.