Butterball break-in is a shocker

A wild turkey that smashed through a Grafton Village Hall window, then, with a little prodding, walked away stuns officials, longtime bird expert

STANDING NEXT TO a broken window at Grafton Village Hall, Administrator Jesse Thyes held a key piece of evidence in the break-in — a feather belonging to the wild turkey that smashed through the glass late Monday afternoon. With a little prodding by police, the bird walked away. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

At about 5 p.m. Monday, Grafton Finance Director Paul Styduhar heard the unmistakable sound of breaking glass at Village Hall.

He could have never imagined what he would find when he investigated.

There, standing in an office, was an adult wild turkey that had smashed through the tinted, double-pane windows of Village Hall and seemed to be pondering its next move. Although it appeared to be a bit dazed, the bird was essentially uninjured, officials said. 

There is no protocol for turkey incidents at Village Hall, so Styduhar did what anyone would do in the case of a break-in and called the cops.

Officers from the Grafton Police Department, which on Facebook dubbed the bird the Butterball Burglar, didn’t arrest the turkey but rather shooed it out through the large hole in the glass it created, and off it went.

“The turkey was confined in a small office, and the officers made some gestures and noises to get it to move toward the hole it made in the window,” Village Administrator Jesse Thyes said.

Village officials weren’t the only ones shocked by the incident.

“In my experience, this is a first,” said Jean Lord, the founder and longtime executive director of Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in the Town of Fredonia who has spent decades caring for birds injured in all sorts of accidents.

That the turkey could break through an exterior glass window of Village Hall is remarkable, Lord said, but that it emerged from the crash uninjured is amazing.

“The turkey is a big bird with big body weight, but it still has a small cranium,” she said. “It’s absolutely amazing it could walk away from something like this. I really can’t believe it.”

Lord, of course, has no way of knowing for sure what caused the bird to crash into Village Hall, but her best guess is that it was flying for its life.

“It sounds like it was startled or that it was flying in fear trying to escape something,” she said. “I really don’t know what else would have caused this.”

Located on Badger Circle just off Cheyenne Avenue in the heart of the village’s business park, Grafton Village Hall is not exactly in an area of the county where wildlife is typically a problem. But these days it seems turkeys, like deer, know no bounds.

“The turkey population has exploded beyond belief,” Lord said. “They’re everywhere.”

Back at Village Hall, officials are soliciting quotes for a new window and checking the village’s insurance policy to see if it covers damage done by a rogue turkey.

Ozaukee Press reporter Joe Poirier contributed to this story.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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