10 Facts About TURKEYS (Not How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey)
Turkeys know their names, come when you call, and are totally affectionate. They’re better than teenagers. Elayne Boosler
Next Thursday may officially be called Thanksgiving, but we all know what it really is–Turkey Day! But how well do you really know the bird likely to be on your plate? And yes, Turkeys are more than just big chickens–more than 45 million years of evolution separates the two species.
The wild turkey was hunted nearly to extinction by the early 20th century when the population reached a low of around 30,000 birds. But restoration programs across North America have brought the numbers up to seven million today.
As many hunters know, a turkey has excellent vision. Because its eyes are on the sides of its head, the turkey has periscopic vision, which allows it to see objects that are not in its direct line of sight. By rotating its head, the turkey can see in 360-degrees.
Turkeys are known to exhibit over 20 distinct vocalizations. Including a distinctive gobble, produced by males, which can be heard a mile away. Don’t be disappointed if the turkey at the petting zoo refuses to gobble — it’s probably a hen, which communicates through clucks and small, chirp-like noises.
Turkeys really get around. The Aztecs domesticated a subspecies, the south Mexican wild turkey, and the Spanish brought those turkeys to Europe. The pilgrims then brought several of these domestic turkeys back to North America.
An adult gobbler, the name given to male turkeys, weighs 16 to 22 pounds on average, has a beard of modified feathers on his breast that reach seven inches or more in length, and has sharp spurs on his legs for fighting. A hen is smaller, weighing around 8 to 12 pounds, and has no beard or spurs. Both genders have a snood (a dangly appendage on the face), wattle (the red dangly thingy under the chin) and only a few feathers on the head.
Turkeys can run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and fly as fast as 55 miles per hour. So, yes, you’re eating “fast” food for Thanksgiving.
Baby turkeys, called poults, eat berries, seeds, and insects, while adults have a more varied diet that can include acorns and even small reptiles.
Poults flock with their mother all year. Although wild turkeys roost in trees, as poults are unable to fly for the first couple of weeks of their lives, the mother stays with them at ground level to keep them safe and warm until they are all strong enough to roost up in the safety of the trees.
Contrary to legend, Benjamin Franklin never proposed the turkey as a symbol for America, but in a letter to his daughter he did once praise it as being “a much more respectable bird than the bald eagle”.
Dinoturkey! Turns out, the wishbone is more than a fun game for Turkey Day; it also serves as a reminder that birds evolved from a group of dinosaurs. Researchers have found that the wishbone dates back more than 150 million years to a group of meat-eating dinosaurs that includes T. rex and Velociraptor.
What fun facts have you learned about turkeys? Leave a comment below. Also, please leave a thumbs-up, it really helps this channel to evolve. Until next time, have a Happy Thanksgiving.