THORNTON, Colo. (KDVR) — A Colorado woman and neighborhood bird herder known as the “turkey lady” received a disorderly conduct citation Wednesday following an altercation with another woman.

Mary Ann Strauch, of Thornton, said she was helping the turkeys cross the road near her home at York Street and 124th Avenue when a driver sped around her and nearly hit her.

Strauch said she tapped the back of the car with a stick she uses to herd turkeys across the road, and the woman got out and confronted her.

“She got really irate and jumped out and started yelling at me,” Strauch said. “And she insisted on calling 911 and having the police come out. And then we were all detained out here about 2 and a half hours.”

Thornton Police confirmed that both women were cited for disorderly conduct. 

“It was very upsetting, and I think it was really unnecessary and uncalled for,” Strauch said.

A woman in a fluorescent safety vest with a stick herds a gaggle of turkeys across the road in the evening
Mary Ann Strauch, known in Thornton as the “turkey lady,” helps the neighborhood birds cross the road to roost each evening. (KDVR)

Herding turkeys to roost

Strauch said she’s been helping the turkeys cross the road near her home for quite some time, a task that’s becoming more difficult as more development continues in the area.

“I try to help the birds be safe, and I think I’m helping the motorists as well,” she said. “Most of the people seem to really enjoy the birds, and they really appreciate me being out here helping the birds.”

Thornton City Councilmember Karen Bigelow said she was disappointed to hear about the situation and said it’s the latest sign that more needs to be done to address the issue.

“When they cross these busy roads, particularly 124th or York, they are getting run over,” she said of the turkeys. “I wonder what happens when someone gets in an accident because of the turkeys?”

Bigelow said she worked with Strauch to install turkey crossing signs in the area but is asking the city to do more to slow traffic. She’s also asked about rehoming the turkeys but said she’s been told that’s not an option. 

“What I was told is we can’t touch the turkeys, we can’t rehome them because they’re wildlife,” she said. “I don’t understand why we can’t rehome these turkeys when we do rehome prairie dogs from development areas. What’s the difference? I’ve not been able to get an answer on this at all.”

Strauch said despite the incident, she will continue helping the turkeys cross the road each night to get to their roost.

Some on social media in Thornton are even offering to pay for her fine and accompany her to court to show support.