Cami Colarossi was heading to a meeting at Notre Dame Preparatory School on Monday when she came across some strange visitors in a breezeway: five wild turkeys.

“They were very nonchalant,” said Colarossi, the director of communications at the Catholic all-girls school in Towson. “They weren’t aggressive at all. They were just taking in the sights.”

The next morning, as Liz Baer pulled up to nearby Maryland Presbyterian Church, she was greeted by five turkeys milling around the door of the church.

“They were standing at our glass doors like they were expecting me to let them in,” said Baer, the church administrator.

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The turkeys seemed "like they were expecting me to open the doors and let them in," said Liz Baer of Maryland Presbyterian Church.
The turkeys seemed "like they were expecting me to open the doors and let them in," Liz Baer of Maryland Presbyterian Church said. (Courtesy of Liz Baer)

For weeks, the rogue turkeys have made appearances in several neighborhoods off Providence Road, pecking around backyards, strutting across Cowpens Avenue and surprising and confusing residents.

So how did the turkeys come to roam Towson? As in most of life’s great misadventures, it seems love is to blame.

The turkeys — the female ones at least— hatched in a pen at Cromwell Valley Park in June, said Cortney Weinstock, deputy director of the Baltimore County Department of Parks and Recreation. Like most county parks, Cromwell Valley keeps domestic and wild animals to entertain and edify visitors.

Park workers let the young turkeys and their parents out to forage each day, and they usually return to their pen on their own. But one day, in late October, a bearded wild turkey caught the beady eyes of the female turkeys. (A male turkey’s beard is a clump of coarse feathers that protrudes from its chest.)

The five young turkeys, whose wings had not yet been clipped, took off with the handsome bearded stranger, making the transition from sisters to sister-wives.

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One of the female turkeys has disappeared and is rumored to have been struck by a car, Weinstock said. Her sisters and their paramour continue to roam the Towson area.

“They are now associated with this male turkey,” Weinstock said. “They decided they didn’t want to come back.”

Wild turkeys stand outside Maryland Presbyterian Church in Towson.
Wild turkeys peer in Maryland Presbyterian Church in Towson. (Courtesy of Liz Baer)

Weinstock said the park’s workers would like to recapture the turkeys, but that’s highly unlikely. The sisters are not domesticated and move very fast. And now that they’ve gotten a taste of freedom, she said, they’re unlikely to give it up.

So don’t be surprised if you see a flock of wild turkeys in Towson. They don’t seem to be aggressive. They just like peering at humans, much as visitors peered at them when they were penned up at the park.

The turkeys peeped in at the cafeteria windows during their jaunt around Notre Dame Prep, Colarossi said. Eventually, facilities workers shooed them to a more remote section of campus.

“We didn’t want to ruffle any feathers,” she said.

Julie Scharper is a news enterprise reporter who writes about interesting people, places, trends and traditions in Baltimore and the surrounding counties. She seeks to answer the question: What does it mean to be alive in this time and place? 

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