A Turkey Is Stopping Traffic In Water Mill


It’s hard to miss her. She struts her stuff in front of motorists on their way through Water Mill. Some, excited at the sight of her appearance, jump out of their cars to snap a photo of her.
She’s new in town and all eyes are on her.

She’s the Water Mill turkey.

First making her appearance around Earth Day in April, the turkey has had quite the impact on the hamlet. Nearby store owners have given her several names, including the typical “Tom Turkey”; the creative “Tsukune,” or chicken meatball, creatively fashioned by the staff at Japanese restaurant Suki Zuki; and “Tartan the Turkey,” dubbed so by Tim Danser, the owner of the Prince of Scots store.

The lady of many labels hardly ever strays from her new hangout at the windmill, and when she’s feeling adventurous, she steps out onto Montauk Highway—often causing traffic to come to a complete stop, as happened as recently as Tuesday morning.

“It obviously has a death wish,” said Jeffrey Sherwood, husband of Donna Parker who owns an antiques store right across from the hamlet green area. “It must have liked what it saw—the real estate is good here.”

According to Ginnie Frati, executive director of the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons, the turkey might have a nest or it could have lost its mate nearby and is attracted to the area for that reason. Typically, turkeys travel with their families.

In recent years, turkeys have become more visible and their populations have been expanding, Ms. Frati said.

With a perfect view of the green, Tim Danser, owner of the Prince of Scots store, said Ms. Turkey has a tendency to chase other birds, people and cars away. Despite its territorial behavior, the turkey has become the Water Mill mascot, he said.

“We should feel honored to have [her] and Jennifer Lopez as new neighbors,” he said.

With the bravery of a Scottish warrior, “Tartan,” as he calls her, often approaches the edge of Montauk Highway and halts traffic, whether she decides to cross or not.

“It will stand out in front of the store and look like it’s coming over, but it doesn’t walk across the road,” Mr. Danser said.

His observations were proven wrong on Tuesday when she decided to pay him a visit in his courtyard on the north side of the highway.

According to Ms. Frati, the rescue center has tried to catch her in order to keep her safe from traffic—but she just runs away.

“There’s nothing we can do about it—we can’t catch it,” she said. “It’s smart about cars, but sometimes it’s worse to chase them, because they could be scared into traffic.”

Ms. Frati said she expects the buxom bird to vacate the area in the next few weeks, as soon as its young is born or it loses interest in the area.

Until then, motorists and store owners will continue to watch her feed on weed seeds, ticks and grass, and chase off strangers to her heart’s content.

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