How to Deter Wild Turkeys

Photo by Chris Coughlin

Late fall is the time of year that WildCare’s Living with Wildlife Hotline 415-456-7283 sees a spike in the number of calls about Wild Turkeys.

Probably the main reason for this is that all of this year’s young turkeys have grown up, but many are still with their natal flocks, meaning that there are more turkeys together in an individual area at this time of year. As the season progresses, the young birds will disperse (and predators will take care of some) so the groups will be smaller and less noticeable.

Turkeys are great for controlling insects, and in general they are unobtrusive neighbors. But a large flock of turkeys roosting on your roof may not be your first choice.

Our main suggestions to deter turkeys are as follows:

1. Figure out what’s attracting them and take it away if possible. They may be getting fallen seed from a birdfeeder, or berries from your blackberry bushes. Your neighbors may be feeding them, attracting them to the area. They may find comfortable roosting spots in your bushes or on low branches in your trees, or your roof may make a comfortable roosting spot. They may find food they like in your garden. Determine what is attracting the birds to your yard and make it less accessible by removing food sources, putting up fencing, or pruning and clearing brush.

2.  Use flash tape. One product we like is it makes bright flashes of light and a bit of noise that turkeys and other animals don’t like. Especially after you have removed attractants from your yard, adding flash tape can make your property less attractive to the birds, and encourage them to move on.

3.  Get a Scarecrow Sprinkler. These motion-activated sprinklers put out a heart-stopping jet of water when they sense motion, and can be used in yards, across driveways and even strategically placed on roofs to deter turkeys.

4.  Act scary! Turkeys don’t want to hang out near a predator, so making yourself big and loud can be very effective at getting them to move along. The penny can (a soda can with a few pennies inside) makes an excellent noise deterrent when shaken (Project Coyote recommends this for deterring coyotes!) and having one with you when you’re in your yard or walking the neighborhood is easy and inexpensive. Shake the can at the birds, yell, wave your arms and generally make them uncomfortable (don’t throw things at the birds, however!) and they will think twice before coming through your yard.