A Quadra Island sensation recently snarled rush hour traffic, bringing two pickups and an e-bike to screeching halt at the four way stop, so young fans could get some one-and-one time with a local legend.

Bob the Turkey was out and about, eager for handouts.

Maria and Eden Joy Shoichate, aged 15 and 9, were giddy after their chance encounter with the small B.C. island’s rising star one recent morning.

“I was like, ‘Mom! Mom! Look there’s a wild turkey!,” Maria told Canada’s National Observer’s reporter on scene.

“You almost caused a car crash,” observed Eden Joy.

“I didn’t cause a car crash,” Maria said.

“Almost!” Eden Joy insisted.

Bob played it coy, taking his time before accepting the piece of granola bar offered to him and posing for a photo with his fans.

Bob is a star with a growing fan base who actively track his whereabouts and well-being, sharing sightings and gossip on the local Facebook page.

Why did the turkey cross the road? To meet and greet adoring fans! #QuadraIsland, #BobTheTurkey, #folkhero, #freedom, #heartbreak #GobbleSoGrand

Though he’s a wild breed, Bob was raised in a domesticated flock and is a long-time regular on the island circuit. Come spring, he turns up in people’s yards, the ferry terminal, cafe and the small village strip mall — his poignant throaty gobbling echoing across lawns, woods and down country roads.

But his fame soared to new heights this season after his owner Karen Knighswander posted Bob’s tragic “wings of freedom” origin story on Facebook and made a public plea for people to be kind to their beloved wild turkey.

Known as Mister Turkey, aka Vincent von Stockpot the Third, before acquiring his stage name, Bob is a family member and welcome to return anytime to the Nighswander’s 20-acre homestead, Karen said. Bob often returns from his walkabouts of his own accord, especially when the farm’s blueberries are ripe, which Karen feeds to him by hand.

“And, like any good man, he often comes home for dinner,” she said.

Bob began to wander two years ago when he lost the last of his flock and his “lady love” to eagles. Forlorn, each mating season, Bob escapes in a fruitless search for a girlfriend.

In the past, the Nighswander family, acting on intelligence from islanders, mounted elaborate recovery efforts to trap Bob and bring him home.

“We didn't want him getting in people's gardens, because he could make a real mess, and we didn't want people running him down or trying to catch him,” Karen said.

Bob is incredibly strong and wiley, and his wings can be dangerous, she added. The turkey can be a real handful to catch, so this year his owners decided to let him do his own thing unless he caused problems.

Though he’s vulnerable to being eaten by wolves or other wildlife, Bob has chosen to live his life on the edge, on his own terms, and the family respects his wishes, she said.

The Nighswander family is pleased people are treating Bob respectfully, because his well-being is very important to them, she stressed.

Quadra island celebrity, Bob the Turkey, waiting for the library to open. Photo Rochelle Baker / Canada's National Observer

Karen is also delighted at Bob’s folk-hero status. The turkey is a hit with tourists when he parades around the community green next to the cafe, where he reportedly is a great favourite of the pastry chef.

In addition to constant reports of his whereabouts, there’s a community poll about how to make Bob’s life more awesome.

Top suggestions to date include:

  • Donate to get him an ostrich and llama entourage.
  • Let the free spirit remind us of our youthful wonder and mystery.
  • Never build a bridge. Cause Bob would experience the rough life.

Facebook screen shot of Quadra Island survey about Bob the Turkey.

Capitalizing on his rising fame, Bob has also formed a band, inspiring a series of catchy AI musical earworms such as the reggae single, “I ain’t no Jive Turkey”, or the sizzling bluegrass ditty, “Gobble in the Wild.”, with its catchy chorus:

“With a gobble so grand / He’s the king of the island in this crazy land.”

Like any shining comet, Karen knows Bob, already elderly at 8-years-old, is destined to fade and pass into the heavens.

She thinks maybe she should commission a bronze statue of the beloved bird for his fans when he does.

Until then, she said, “I’m glad he’s living his best life and sharing himself with the community.”

Bob’s last confirmed sighting was the afternoon of Friday, June 21.

Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National Observer