Dealing with wild turkeys

Wild turkeys can be a problem and nuisance especially when they seasonally appear out of nowhere onto your garden and backyard. They come in flocks searching for food but end up destroying your garden and leaving possible diseases behind.

image of wild turkey
Not safe for kids to approach

There was a time when turkeys were only seen in rural areas but now they are a common sight in many regions. There’s an estimated seven million wild turkeys in US today. Spread over the country this may not seem like much but in some areas they aggregate and can be a real problem, for both homeowners and farms.

Turkeys can also be dangerous, especially with children who often find them endearing and approach too close. A male, referred to as a “Tom”, can weigh over twenty pounds and when defending/attacking they kick, brandishing pretty large spurs, and forcefully peck with their beaks.

Over the years people have adopted various ways of getting rid of wild turkeys. Some people shoot them but first of all this may not be legal, second you may end up just injuring the animal, and last but not least – it won’t do much good. There’s always more. The only humane and practical way to stop the birds from foraging on your property is to scare them off (or
fence your property – but you need high fences for that).

A sprinkler is an innovative and non-lethal way of keeping your gardens and backyard clear of any turkey visits. With one machine strategically placed in your garden, you could secure a prime location, for example a vegetable garden. With just a few units, your whole property could be protected against nuisance animals of all sorts including deer and wild pigs.

There are several brands that manufacture
automatic sprinklers
intended for property protection with Contech, Havahart and Orbit being the most established. All versions work on the same basic principle: when a motion sensor is activated it triggers a sudden spray of water.

While there are standalone water scarecrow versions that have their own water receptacles, the common motion activated sprinkler is connected to a regular garden hose. Installation is extremely simple and a single unit can cover an area of 1200 square feet, 24/7, all year long.

Flock of eastern turkeys outdoors
Credit wikipedia

Motion activated scarecrow explained

You might be forgiven for thinking that a scarecrow sprinkler is a camouflaged dual purpose lawn watering device. It isn´t. A motion activated sprinkler is a automatic deterrent that scares unwanted animals from your garden. This includes fairly large animals such as deer, as well as smaller intruders such as cats, rats and even birds. It is also one of the most effective raccoon deterrents you can deploy.

Over the years, various ways have been devised to get rid of garden pests, either permanently as in the case of poison, or temporarily such as with twirling windmills, or loud noises. Straightforward traditional scarecrows can be used, but however scary they might be, they are a poor long term solution since the effect of a stationary object (even if it moves) is temporary.

The fact is that with these methods, a biological effect known as habituation comes into play. This is seen in small creatures, such as snails, which stop retracting their antennae after a short time of being touched with a stick. With humans, we will get used to unpleasant smells or flashing lights over time, that might be distracting to begin with.

The same goes for most other animals. Once their brains get used to the idea that they’re not under any threat to their life, they will subconsciously cut out the nuisance effect to concentrate on other possible new dangers. So the static, traditional, scarecrow, or the loud bird siren will lose their effectiveness over time and the pests will ignore them. The surprise of being hit with a dash of water from a motion activated sprinkler is something the pests don’t ever get used to.

Heron in garden fish pondMethods such as the use of poison are obviously out of favor these days, because of the dangers of leaving poisoned slugs, for instance, that may carry toxic substances that will kill innocent birds that eat them. These methods could also be dangerous to pets and children and, in any case, killing an animal for trespassing is not a good method to keep your property free from pests. It is inhumane, and more will come to replace it.

Making your property feel unsafe is the trick to making animals not want to visit in the first place.

More ingenious methods have been used in scaring birds on runways, for instance, by playing loud recordings of the calls of birds that prey on the unwanted birds. These methods have been tried in gardens but can be costly and eventually ineffective.

Solar sound deterrent stake
Ultrasonic repellent

The most effective animal deterrent is a combination of high and low technologies, known as the scarecrow sprinkler. This uses a motion activated spray of water, and is triggered by the same kind of reliable motion detector that you find in intruder alarms.

Once a pest is detected, the scarecrow sprinkler quickly shoots a jet of water in its direction and the shock of getting a splash of water from seemingly nowhere. The beauty of a motion activated scarecrow sprinkler is the effectiveness and simplicity.

Since it runs on water it is a set and forget garden protection that simply works every time and is a ecological and animal friendly deterrent. Instead of inhumanely killing the animals, a automatic scarecrow sprinkler system will simply scare them time and time again until they eventually stop coming back to your garden.

Orbit Garden enforcer on tripod
Orbit sprinkler

If you have persistent visitors that don’t seem to get the message, consider using multiple deterrents. A combo of automatic sprinklers and ultrasonic deterrents tends to have a powerful effect and keep gardens free of both birds and land animals.

Yard Scarecrow Sprinkler Video Demo

A couple of years back, Havahart had cornered the market of motion activated sprinklers. There are more options these days and the current bestseller is the Yard Enforcer series by Orbit.

There are two versions of this scarecrow sprinkler system for sale: the standalone 62100 Yard Enforcer which is quite similar to Havahart’s product, and the Orbit 62120 Garden Enforcer which is essentially the same, but mounted on a tripod which makes it suitable when you need ore height, for instance if placing the sprinkler inside a hedge or if it surrounded by orchard plants.

Here’s a scarecrow sprinkler demonstration video from Orbit showing how well it works as a repellent on deer. It may seem harsh to frighten an animal in this way but it’s just water, and after a few encounters like this, that animal will stay away.