A feathered loiterer is the newest sensation in one of Connecticut’s oldest town.
“Kevin The Turkey,” named that by a Facebook tribute group with nearly 4,000 members, gets near-constant attention from dawn to dusk as he trots on his drumsticks about Main and Marsh streets in Old Wethersfield, near First Church of Christ.
“It’s kind of crazy when people name a wild bird,” Michael Gregonis, a wildlife biologist who is the state’s wild turkey expert, said. “I’ve never seen anything quite like this.”
Kevin is about a year and a half old. People feed the bird so he is used to being around people, though he generally ignores them. Gregonis said there is plenty of food in woods for turkeys to eat, but Kevin hangs out in Old Wethersfield to get the easy food. Once the food stops, the turkey will move on, Gregonis said..
Until then, the bird will continue to hold what police dispatch calls his daily “engagements” at Main and Marsh.
Kevin is a big deal here.“Kevin the Turkey” swag is sold in Old Wethersfield shops. There is a 2018 Kevin calendar with picture of the bird, and a “Kevin The Wethersfield Turkey” T-shirt.
It’s local election time, which explains the “Don’t be Chicken Vote for Kevin” for mayor lawn signs. That sign is labeled as “all in good fun with all proceeds to benefit the Wethersfield Food Bank. Gobble. Gobble.”
“He’s our fad of the year,” Megan Kirk of Old Wethersfield Country Store said after recounting all the “Kevin” items for sale. “We’re out of the calendars. We had 100, $19.95 each. We will get more.”
“This wild bird has by far the most notoriety of any in the state,” Gregonis said.
The bird’s safety causes some worry among his fans, though. Some think Kevin should be taken to an animal sanctuary, away from crowds, traffic, dogs and the few kids who chase the bird and scare it.
There’s also an online petition seeking to block state wildlife staff from ever removing or killing “our beloved wild turkey.”
No need to worry about that, Dennis Schain, a spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said Wednesday via email.” “Let the people of Wethersfield know that we are not out to indiscriminately kill Kevin. My folks tell me, in fact, Kevin has relocated himself to Old Wethersfield in an area where he is not causing any problems in any major intersections.”
When the bird first showed up in March by busy Route 3, he wandered into the road and disrupted traffic. Attempts to catch him failed.
“Turkeys fly 50 miles an hour. They run 10 miles and hour. They have excellent hearing and eyesight” Gregonis said. “Not easy to capture.”
For some reason, the turkey later moved a mile away, to less hazardous Main Street in the town’s pre-Colonial historic district. First Church, which seems to be Kevin’s favorite spot, was founded in 1635.
Kevin’s celebrity was obvious last Wednesday afternoon. The bird strutted on lawns, sidewalks and streets, licked water from a plastic bowl labeled “water for Kevin,” pecked shelled sunflower seeds left on the brick sidewalk and clawed dirt on a First Church flower garden looking for insects to eat.
It was a show watched by a constant stream of visitors. The avian performer largely ignored his audience.
“Kevin!” shouted a man driving past in a black pickup truck.
Paula Dare, a former Rocky Hill resident who now lives in Dayton, Ohio, was in town visiting her sister, and ]the two came down to see the turkey.
“I didn’t come from Ohio just to see him,” Dare said. “But as soon as I came I told everyone I’d like to see him.”
From the start, the turkey was so mellow that people speculated it was a pet or an escapee from a farm. The bird ignores almost everything except mail trucks.
“When he sees one, he chases it to peck it,” said Henry Levine, 72, a retired engineer and Wethersfield residents who is one of the turkey’s more devoted fans. “Look at his Facebook page. There’s a video of Kevin chasing a mail truck. He couldn’t get it.”
Kevin’s mail truck animosity perplexes people. As is standard with celebrity lives, unanswered questions lead to chatter.
One theory is that Kevin used to be fed by a letter carrier and chases all USPS trucks hoping for food, Levine said. There’s a darker theory that “he had a mate who got hit and killed by a mail truck,” Levine said “Nobody really knows.”
Dolores Difazio, who works at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum a block from Marsh, stopped by at dusk Tuesday with two friends to take pictures of the bird after spotting Kevin patrolling a small traffic island on Marsh Street.
“He isn’t shy at all, “ Difazio said. As she talked, a few other strollers walked closer to take selfies near a disinterested Kevin. A man in a passing car slowed down to yell “hello Kevin” before driving off.
“This bird is something you can really enjoy,” Difazio said. “It’s fun. We need more fun these days.”