How did the TURKEY get its name? (Here are a few ideas.)
- It may have come from the wild turkey's call (when it is afraid) which sounds like "turk-turk-turk".
- The American Indian name for the bird was "firkee".
- Christopher Columbus, the explorer took some of the wild turkeys of North America back to Europe. People liked the meat. Merchants from Turkey may have been trading some of these birds so they came to be called "turkey birds".
- Some say Columbus thought the turkey was part of the peacock family. So he decided to call them "tuka" which is the word for peacock in the language of India.
The wild turkey is native to Northern Mexico and the Eastern United States.
The American Indians hunted wild turkey for its meat as early as 1000 A.D. They made turkey "callers" out of turkey wing bones. The feathers were used to decorate ceremonial clothing. The spurs on the legs of wild tom turkeys were used on arrowheads and the feathers were used to stabilize the arrows.
Wild turkey became a source of food for the early settlers.
The wild turkey nearly disappeared in the early 1900s because of over-hunting and because trees were cut down to make way for farmland and communities.
Turkeys are raised year round in Canada in specially designed barns.
Adult turkeys can have 3,500 feathers. Most turkey feathers are composted. Feathers are spread out on fields, then plowed under in the spring. The feathers decompose and fertilize the soil.
Wild turkeys spend the night in trees. They roost (perch) on the branches.
Wild turkeys can glide as far as a mile without flapping their wings. They can fly for short distances up to 88 km/hr (55 miles/hour). Wild turkeys can run 29 km/hr (18 miles/hour).
Turkeys’ heads change colors when they become excited.
The male turkey is called a tom or gobbler. The female turkey is called a hen. Baby turkeys are called poults.
A turkey has 157 bones!
According to the Guinness Book of Records the largest turkey raised was 39.09 kilograms (86 pounds) -- about the size of a large dog.
How do you tell the HENS from the TOMS?
- Once they mature, the toms are larger and have longer legs.
- Toms grow a beard (long black feathers) in the middle of the chest (breast). Very few hens grow a beard.
- A male turkey's head and wattle (growth under the chin) is larger.
- The tom's snood (a fleshy growth on top of the bill) is longer and hangs down the side of his face.
- Male turkeys gobble. Hens do not. Hens make a clicking or clucking sound.
Male turkeys strut about, gobbling loudly and holding their heads high. They stick out their chests, fan their large tails and drag their wings on the ground. They do this to attract the attention of the female turkeys.
Gobbling turkeys can be heard a mile away on a quiet day.
Turkeys don’t really have ears like ours, but they have very good hearing.
A large group of turkeys is called a flock.
Turkeys are related to pheasants.
As male turkeys age, they tend to fight a lot. They may even attack people.
Turkeys can see movement almost a hundred yards away.
Turkeys do not see well at night.
More turkeys are eaten at Thanksgiving than for Christmas and Easter combined.
The five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey -- as a sandwich, stew or soup, salad, casserole and stir-fry.
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin ate turkey in foil packets for their first meal on the moon.