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Turkey traffic jam: Wild bird causing delays on Zimmerman Trail in Billings

Zimmerman Trail turkey
Posted at 3:12 PM, Nov 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-23 19:53:10-05

BILLINGS — Winter weather is usually the cause for headaches on Zimmerman Trail in Billings, but over the last few weeks, there's been a unique cause of a traffic jam.

"I was driving around the curve, and a second or two later I looked up and it was a turkey," David Petersen said.

Yes, a turkey, and it’s been playing crossing guard for weeks. Peterson's encounter was Nov. 16. Since then, multiple pictures have been posted to a Facebook page related to driving in Billings showing what appears to be the same bird.

Zimmerman Trail turkey
A turkey stops southbound traffic on Zimmerman Trail in November 2022.

Peterson simply waited for the bird to move on, but others haven’t been so patient.

"A pickup laid on horn, flashed lights," he said. "The bird wasn’t having it. The bird owned the road."

Many are calling him the classic Tom, but he has another name.

"I named him Freddie," said Caroline Lansing.

Lansing lives in a house right at the bottom of Zimmerman Trail, and she has quite the history with Freddie.

"He comes every morning," she said. "He comes up on the front porch and pecks on the front window. He sits on the railing and falls asleep."

Caroline Lansing house
Caroline Lansing lives in the first house on the left as you drive south down Zimmerman Trail and says she has had a wild turkey visit every day since spring.

Lansing said the turkey showed up this past spring. She was at a meeting the other day when his traffic congestion hobby came up.

"They saw this turkey holding up traffic, and they said, 'I think it’s Caroline’s turkey,'" she laughed. "He runs up to cars when people come to visit, like he’s a pet turkey or he knows everybody."

Lansing is worried now because she says he hasn’t visited the last two mornings. MTN News went looking just east of the house where he’s reported to hang out, but the only thing there was a bird statue.

For Caroline's sake, we hope he's just laying low considering Thursday's main course. But the next time you’re going up Zimmerman, watch out: you never know what might be around the corner.