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from The Boston Globe

    Belligerent bird puts US postal carrier to flight

By Erica Noonan, Globe Staff, 3/1/2001

NEWTON - It's neither sleet nor snow that keeps Newton postal carrier Tim Hoban from his appointed rounds. It's a large and ornery wild turkey named George.

For three days recently, Hoban was unable to deliver mail to about 30 houses in Newtonville because the bird, which stands nearly 4 feet tall, galloped at him beak-first, screeching and flapping its wings.

''He's an attack dog,'' said Hoban, assessing the turkey as ''even worse'' than the German shepherd who recently tried to take a bite out of his mailbag. ''He's really scary. He's got feet bigger than my hands.''

The creature apparently sees Hoban as a threat to his food supply - muffins and Cheerios laid out by locals.

On Wednesday, the Animal Rescue League of Boston spent more than an hour trying to catch George, but the bird fled into the woods.

At first, other letter carriers didn't take Hoban's plight seriously. ''I couldn't really hear much [sympathy] over their laughter,'' said Hoban. ''They made gobbling noises as I walked by.''

And Hoban says he feels like a spoilsport complaining about a bird so beloved by the close-knit neighborhood where he's delivered mail for the past 14 years. ''I know all these people by name, and our job is to get people their mail.''

He's tried to outsmart the turkey by taking backyard shortcuts and tweaking his delivery routes. But George always seemed to be waiting, ready to pounce.

However, Hoban finally invited a couple of supervisors to see George in action last Friday. Sure enough, the turkey chased the carrier down Lowell Avenue and into oncoming traffic.

''Their jaws just dropped,'' he said.

Boston Postmaster Michael Powers said George is the first turkey to ever interfere with mail delivery in his district. ''My concern it that our employees feel safe. I'm not concerned about if people laugh.''


© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

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