Wild Turkey Trivia

Seeing as how we Americans are getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow with a feast of one of our favorite birds, I thought I would add one more Turkey of an article here at Nature Center Magazine today. I've decided to bring you some fun Turkey Trivia that you may not already know. Let's get to the fun!

How many of these fun facts do you know?
  • Most of us Americans know that Benjamin Franklin wanted the Turkey to be our national symbol, instead of the Bald Eagle. But not many know that what he really seemed to want was mainly for the bald eagle to not be our symbol. In a joking manner, he chose the turkey as an alternative, to demonstrate how much he disliked the choice of the bald eagle.
  • The Wild Turkey was a favorite meal of eastern Native American tribes.
  • Wild Turkeys can indeed fly! In fact, they fly close to the ground for up to one quarter of a mile (400 m).
  • Male Wild Turkeys have bald heads and necks, while the females have feathers on their necks.
  • The long fleshy object that grows over a male turkey's beak is called a snood.
  • Wild Turkeys have between 5000 and 6000 feathers.
  • Wild Turkeys and Domestic Turkeys most Americans eat for Thanksgiving are really not the same bird, but they are the same species. The Domestic Turkey was domesticated from the South Mexico subspecies of Wild Turkey.
  • Wild Turkeys sleep in low branches of trees. They have to fly to get to these branches.
  • Peacocks aren't the only birds that use their fancy tails to attract females. Wild turkeys puff up their bodies and fan out their tail feathers to attract females during spring mating season.
  • The dark feathers of a Wild Turkey are colored that way to help hide them in the forest.
  • Even though the origin is unclear, one theory on how the turkey got its name is that it originated from the name of the country Turkey. It was actually a case of mistaken identity. The English called this bird a "Turkey Bird" because they mistook it for an African bird that came to them by way of the country of Turkey. The name stuck even after they realized the mistake.
  • Wild Turkeys are faster than we think. They can fly as fast as 55 mph and they can run as fast as 29 mph.
  • Domestic Turkeys can not fly because they are bred to be so much heavier than their wild counterparts.
  • The common dance called the “Turkey Trot” was named after the quick, small steps that a turkey takes when walking.
  • There is evidence that Turkeys can have heart attacks, like humans do. Turkeys were witnessed to have had heart attacks after being frightened by the sound of Jet Planes flying overhead.
  • The very first unofficial Presidential pardons were supposedly granted to domestic turkeys in 1947 by President Harry Truman, even though no record of this exists. The story goes that since then every president has “pardoned” two turkeys (a Presidential turkey and a Vice Presidential turkey) before Thanksgiving every year. The birds are then taken to a farm to live out their lives, free from ever being killed and eaten. This custom of pardoning turkeys was formalized in 1989.
  • The very first female turkey to be pardoned was by President George W. Bush in 2002. The turkey's name was Katie.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


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