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Cambridge mail carrier attacked by turkey had to have hip replaced

“They’re mean,” said Ed Mitchell, who is recovering at home.

A wild turkey on the lawn of a home on Reservoir and Highland Street's in Cambridge.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

A postal carrier who had his hip replaced after being attacked by a turkey in Cambridge last month says he plans to return to the same mail route after recovering.

Ed Mitchell, 49, who lives in Weymouth, has been working the same Cambridge route — plus or minus a few streets — for more than 20 years, and said he never had a significant issue with the local wildlife until last year, when a trio of aggressive turkeys appeared around Harvard Square, acting aggressively toward him and other carriers.

“They’re mean,” Mitchell said in a phone interview Sunday. “It’s only like three bad ones. I don’t know if something’s happened to them. Maybe one of them got killed by a mail truck.”


They usually flock along Garden Street, he said, but two of the birds had settled in front of a home around 60 Huron Ave. on March 20. Mitchell said he was crossing the street around 2:30 p.m. when he realized the turkeys had spotted him.

“I started hearing the noises,” he said. “That’s when they started getting aggressive.”

Mitchell stepped into the road, positioning himself so that a tree and pair of trash barrels were between himself and the birds, but as he turned to look, one of the turkeys was already flying toward him. Wild turkeys can fly at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, according to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

“They usually don’t catch up to me, but this time they were right on top of me,” he said. “I didn’t know if they were going for my eyes.”

Mitchell said he did not fully remember where or how the turkey hit him, but said it knocked him onto the pavement, where it continued to peck at him before passersby shooed the pair away. “They didn’t give up,” he said.


During breeding season, which lasts from March to May, wild turkeys are more active in Massachusetts and may display higher levels of aggression, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The state recommends scaring aggressive turkeys away “with loud noises, swatting with a broom or water sprayed from a hose.”

An ambulance rushed Mitchell to Mount Auburn Hospital, where he underwent replacement surgery on his right hip two days later, before being discharged the following Friday.

Some hospital staff “loved the story,” he said, and told him they had never seen someone injured so badly by a turkey.

Nearly two weeks after the incident, Mitchell said he is walking but needs to use a walker and a cane for balance.

Residents along Mitchell’s mail route expressed their concerns and sympathies for the carrier, who they called “Eddie” in posts on Nextdoor. Mitchell said EHChocolatier, a chocolate shop along the route, sent him flowers and balloons when the owners heard he had been in the hospital.

Stephen Doherty, a spokesman for the Massachusetts branch of the United States Post Office, declined to comment on Mitchell’s case specifically, but confirmed that a mail carrier was attacked by turkeys in Cambridge.

“People often feel bad for our carriers when they’re delivering in snow, rain or other foul weather but they can prepare for those contingencies,” Doherty wrote in an e-mail. “It’s the hazards you don’t expect, like the hose or rake under the leaves or the animal you’ve walked past 100 times without incident, that can take you by surprise.”


Mitchell said it will be about six months before he is able to deliver the mail again, and he is not sure how well he will navigate his hilly route. When he returns, he said, he anticipates staying on high alert around any local turkeys.

“If I take another fall, that’s all I need,” Mitchell said. “I’m going to be paranoid every time I see them now.”

Daniel Kool can be reached at Follow him @dekool01.