Turkeys, the New Suburban Neighbor?

A new breed of residents is getting comfortable in gardens, on roofs and near cars in some suburban areas, but they may not be the friendliest neighbors you'll ever get to know.

Wild turkeys are finding their way into the suburbs, and who can blame them? These areas offer plenty of housing, food and trees to enjoy.

"They are our local resident oddity," Kate Berg of La Conner, Wash., said with a laugh. "No one knows where they came from -- they just showed up."

"They must be from somebody's farm," said one visitor to the area. "I've never seen wild turkeys."

Plenty of people are seeing the large birds, as the population of wild turkeys now matches what it was before the pilgrims made their way to North America.

"This is one of the greatest success stories in wildlife history," said Johnathan Harling, a spokesman for the nonprofit National Wild Turkey Federation. "We're extremely proud that we've gotten it back to where it once was."

The group estimates there are 7 million wild turkeys across the country -- up from 30,000 a hundred years ago, when the population dwindled as the nation became more industrialized. Now, areas like La Conner are finding the birds hanging around their town.

"They have been known to window shop, in fact two of them went in the bank and made a 'deposit' the other day," said La Conner Mayor Wayne Everton.

They are also known to roost on roofs, soil car roofs and peck at windows when they mistake their reflection for another bird. Still, some may delight in their appearance.

"People certainly would enjoy them. They're a striking bird, they're colorful, they're a symbol of remote times when we had pilgrims," said wildlife biologist Jim Cardoza.

Munching in the Garden

As suburban populations stretch into more remote areas, houses are ending up in areas once ruled by the wildlife.

This is particularly an issue in the crowded Northeast, where wild turkeys are occasionally showing up in yards.

"Turkeys will eat just about anything," said Randy Myers, biologist manager with the Louisiana Wildlife Division. "They primarily eat bugs and seeds and things like that so they will also eat green vegetation … They can go through a freshly planted garden in no time."

The turkeys are also creatures of habit and will return when food seems plentiful, so Cardoza advises if you see a feathered creature in your yard, stay away.

"The main thing is not to feed them because that accustoms them to people and then they learn not to fear people, and they react to people as they would other turkeys," he said.

As he explains it, turkeys live in flocks and will count people in as part of that group.

"They have a pecking order and the big boss turkey tries to dominate the other turkeys," said Cardoza. "So they will chase people and react to people because they want to … be the most dominant turkey."

It's far more amicable in La Conner, which is now looking to give these birds a place of honor. "I can't get the turkey named as the national bird, but I can get it named as the town bird," said Everton.

Embracing them may not be the best strategy, according to Cardoza, who says the 3-foot-tall creatures will be tough to coax out of your property once they've arrived. "It takes some work, you have to be more of a boss than they are."

While the wild turkeys are generally a flourishing population, Myers notes those near the Gulf Coast are facing tougher times. "I think long term we've had some affect in Washington and St. Tammany parishes," said Myers. "A lot of timber, hard woods were destroyed and that's not going to be good for turkeys."

The turkeys roost in the older trees and like to forage in the thickets which were also destroyed. In an odd sort of twist, those turkeys just might need some feeding this Thanksgiving.

ABC News affiliate KOMO in Seattle contributed to this report