Neighborhood adopts wild turkey, dubs him ‘Harry Lou’

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 1, 2015

 A wild turkey, affectionately dubbed “Harry Lou” by residents of a Shelby Township neighborhood near 22 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue, fans out his tail feathers in a driveway.

A wild turkey, affectionately dubbed “Harry Lou” by residents of a Shelby Township neighborhood near 22 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue, fans out his tail feathers in a driveway.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Bennett

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Although it sounds like a tale fit for April Fools’ Day, a Shelby Township neighborhood’s affection for a lone wild turkey who showed up one day last summer is real.

Residents in the area of 22 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue took to calling the turkey “Mary Lou,” after the name of their street, Mary Lou Court, until they found out the turkey was, in fact, a male. They then dubbed the turkey that enjoys following people, chasing cars and roosting in their trees “Harry Lou.”

The turkey has not been seen since Shelby Township police officers responded to reports of an “aggressive” turkey March 6 and chased it away with an air horn, but residents along Mary Lou Court hope that it left to find a mate.

Resident Karl Gudding said he believes, since his neighbors fed the turkey, that it became bolder, ventured toward Van Dyke Avenue and ABC Warehouse, and scared individuals unfamiliar with it.

“It was down our street all this time, and people didn’t realize that it wasn’t chasing people,” Gudding said. “It was a nosy turkey. It would follow you. If you ran, it would run to keep up with you. If you ran faster, it couldn’t run fast enough, so it’d start flapping its wings to try to keep up with you.”

With an approximately 6-foot wingspan, Gudding said he could understand how the turkey might intimidate strangers.

He said the bird showed up one day in early August, eating grapes off a vine on Gudding’s fence.

The turkey would follow Gudding along the path from his garage to his shed, follow him and his wife down the driveway, and chase their car down the street. When they returned, the turkey would often be in the driveway, Gudding said.

“It was so funny to see her come running up the driveway to greet you like a little kid wanting to play, waiting for you to come home,” he said. “It was like a mascot. I told my wife it’s a good omen.”

One time, he said, the turkey parked itself behind a guest’s car in the driveway and would not let her leave. 

“Another time, I went to grab the doorknob, but a head showed up on the other side of the storm door peeking up at me,” he said. “She was almost like one of the neighborhood kids, only one that lived outside.”

Gudding said police chased the turkey, but could not catch it, and it flew up onto a roof. About 5-10 minutes after, he said, Macomb County Animal Control officers showed up, but their nets were too short to reach the turkey, and both parties called it quits.

Shelby Township Deputy Police Chief Stephen Stanbury said he had been made aware that a subdivision adopted a turkey that supposedly was nonviolent.

“The only thing I would say is law enforcement officers are sometimes faced with some more challenging duties than others, and this was just a difficult situation and Shelby officers responded as best they could,” Stanbury said.

Resident Lisa Bennett said neighbors would hear Harry Lou gobbling in the morning and at night, and that he would often look at his reflection in their vehicles.

“He was really friendly. We all loved that bird,” Bennett said. “He would come on my front porch and peck on the door, and we’d take him out fresh water and food and stuff like that.”

One day, the turkey was on her roof, and she and her family went outside and were talking to it when it flew down at them, she said.

When the police responded to reports about the turkey, she said, many of the neighbors expressed concern for it. She said she spotted it at the abandoned VRM Skopje Beverage Shop across the street the day after police chased it with an air horn, but that it hadn’t been seen since.

“He did get a little aggressive near the end,” Bennett said. “We looked up wild turkey information, and mating season is in March and April. He was fluffing up all his tail feathers, and the kids were getting scared of him.”

Gudding said he is sad to see the turkey go, but that he hopes it is off answering the call of nature to find a mate.

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