What started as a routine trip to Newport to pick up hardware supplies Wednesday morning turned into a disaster for Tilden Spencer and his wife, Vickie, after a large turkey flew into their Chevy Trailblazer on Interstate 95, shattering the windshield and killing the turkey.

“I didn’t even see it. It just happened in a blink of the eye,” said Spencer, 50, of Clinton, as he recalled the accident Wednesday afternoon. “I saw my wife throw up her hands and I glanced over, and the next thing I knew, a turkey hit the window.”

The impact of the bird — which Spencer estimated weighed 15 to 20 pounds — shattered the windshield on his Chevy Trailblazer, but a plastic safety guard kept most of the glass from falling into the vehicle.

“I would have been killed if not for that safety plastic,” Spencer said. “I’m happy for that. It’s just a windshield, and it’s getting replaced.”

The accident was reported at 9:30 a.m. in the northbound lanes between mile markers 156 and 157 in Pittsfield. The bird was flying across the highway from east to west and hit the driver’s side of the windshield while the Spencers were in the passing lane and had just passed an 18-wheel truck.

The truck slowed down to allow Spencer to pull over about a half mile up the road.

“It happened so fast you couldn’t even see it,” Spencer said. “We weren’t hurt, thank God, just a little bit of glass shards in my fingers and stuff like that. Like I said, it was a hairy trip.”

The Trailblazer had to be towed from the scene and the windshield will have to be replaced, according to Maine State Police Trooper John York.

“It is unusual,” York said. “I mean, you can get car versus deer and car versus moose accidents, and people hit dogs and cats all the time; but there aren’t a lot of turkey accidents, even though there are plenty of them around.”

Turkeys flock in the winter and tend to branch out on their own more in the spring, when they breed in April and May, said Kelsey Sullivan, a game bird biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

He said a handful of traffic accidents involve turkeys each year, most causing minor damage to the vehicles; and they often take place in the spring and summer, when the turkeys are more spread out.

In early spring, turkeys often feed along the side of the highway because they are attracted to the road salt and gravel, and the earth along the road is also the first to thaw, Sullivan said.

The turkey population in the state, almost nonexistent by the 1880s, has been growing steadily following reintroduction efforts that began in 1942 and gathered steam in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Turkey hunting season starts May 2 in the state’s southern and coastal wildlife management districts and later in the month in more northerly areas. It runs through June 4 in many areas. Hunters can take up to four turkeys between the fall and spring hunting seasons.

In the wake of the accident, Spencer joked that the state should loosen its restrictions on turkey hunting.

“There’s so many turkeys,” he said. “You can walk out my back door and see 25 to 50 every day, and you can drive half a mile down the road and there’s another 25 to 50 turkeys in the field. There’s just that one I saw on the interstate, and if there was more than that one, I don’t know. It was the only one I saw flying, and he went flying all right.”

He said he is happy he and his wife are safe, even if they will have to replace their windshield.

“We’re laughing about it now, but it’s something most people don’t want to try to do,” he said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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