the first Thanksgiving to today's turkey burgers, turkeys are a part of
the American tradition dating back hundreds of years. However, many of
us still know little about these wonderful birds. The following is a
compilation of some the most amazing facts about the World of Turkeys
The Christening Act -
Do you know how the Turkey got its name???
There are a number of explanations for the origin of the name of
Thanksgiving's favorite dinner guest. Some believe Christopher
Columbus thought that the land he discovered was connected to
India, and believed the bird he discovered (the turkey) was a type of
peacock. He therefore called it 'tuka,' which is 'peacock' in Tamil,
an Indian language.
Though the turkey is actually a type of pheasant, one can't blame the
explorer for trying.
The Native American name for turkey is 'firkee'; some say this is how
turkeys got their name. Simple facts, however, sometimes produce the
best answers—when a turkey is scared, it makes a "turk, turk,
Globalization of the
Early explorers to the
New World quickly acquired a taste for turkey and took birds back to
Europe. By the 1500s, turkeys were being raised domestically in Italy,
France and England. When the Pilgrims and other settlers arrived in
America, they were already familiar with raising and eating turkey and
naturally included it as part of their Thanksgiving feast.
A Tryst with Destiny
Benjamin Franklin, who
proposed the turkey as the official United States' bird, and argued passionately on behalf of the
turkey, was dismayed
when the bald eagle was chosen over the turkey. Franklin felt the turkey, although "vain and silly",
was a better choice than the bald eagle, whom he felt was "a
coward". He wrote to his
daughter, referring to the eagle's "bad moral character,"
saying, "I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the
representative of our country! The turkey is a much more respectable
bird, and withal a true original native of America."
What's a Fryer and a
A turkey under sixteen weeks of age is called a fryer,
while a young roaster is five to seven months old.
What do you call that thing that hangs off a turkey's beak?
The flesh-like appendage located on the top of the beak, near the
base is called the snood which is very long on male turkeys and hangs
down over the beak.
What is the reddish thing that hangs off a turkey's neck?
The reddish fleshy area at the front of the the turkey's throat under
the beak is called a wattle. The wattle and the snood become bright red
when the tom is "strutting" his stuff in the mating dance.
Does a turkey have ears?
While a turkey does not have ears per se, it does have excellent
hearing, making extremely difficult for any creature to approach without
How good is their
They also have exceptionally keen eyesight and see in
color. Their field of vision is about 270 degrees. This
is the main reason they continue to elude some hunters. However, a turkey's night vision and depth perception are poor.
Turkeys also have a poor sense of smell but a keen sense of taste.
Do all turkeys gobble?
No, only toms (male turkeys) gobble. Hens (females) make a clicking
Why do turkeys gobble?
The gobble is a seasonal call (Spring and Fall) only the male turkeys
(toms) make. Hens are attracted for mating when a tom gobbles. Wild toms
love to gobble when they hear loud sounds. They also gobble when they
settle in for the night. A gobbling turkey can be heard a mile away on a
Can Turkeys fly?
Domesticated turkeys cannot
fly but wild turkeys can burst into flight
approaching speeds between 50-55 mph in a matter of seconds. A spooked turkey can
also run at
speeds up to 20 miles per hour.
Where do Turkeys
Turkeys are able to adapt to
a wide variety of habitats. However, most turkeys are found in
hardwood forests with grassy areas. Turkeys spend the night in
trees. They fly to their roosts around sunset. Turkeys fly to the ground at
first light and feed until mid-morning. Feeding resumes in
Was the ballroom dance known as the "Turkey Trot" named
As a matter of fact, yes. In it, dancers imitate turkeys by circling
the floor in short, jerky steps.
When is the best
time to see a Turkey?
The best time to see a
turkey is on a warm clear day or in a light rain.
What about the
In 2000, about 267
million turkeys were raised. We estimate that 45 million of those
turkeys were eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas and 19
million at Easter. North Carolina produces 61 million turkeys annually, more than any
other state. Minnesota and Arkansas are number two and three.
What happens to the
It's estimated that
turkeys have 3,500 feathers at maturity. The bulk of turkey feathers are
composted or otherwise disposed of; however, some feathers may be used
for special purposes. For instance, dyed feathers are used to make
American Indian costumes or as quills for pens. The costume that
"Big Bird" wears on "Sesame Street" is rumored to be
made of turkey feathers. Turkey feather down has been used to make
pillows. For commercial use, turkey skins are tanned and used to make
items like cowboy boots, belts or other accessories.
Since 1947, the
National Turkey Federation (NTF) has presented the President of the
United States with a live turkey and two dressed turkeys in celebration
of Thanksgiving. The annual presentation of the National Thanksgiving
Turkey to the President has become a traditional holiday ritual in the
nation's capital, signaling the unofficial beginning of the holiday
season and providing the President an opportunity to reflect publicly on
the meaning of the Thanksgiving season. After the ceremony, the live
bird retires to a historical farm to live out the rest of its years.
Believe it or not...
Turkeys' heads change
colors when they become excited.
Turkey eggs are the
size of two chicken eggs.
Turkeys have heart attacks.
When the Air Force was conducting test runs and breaking the sound
barrier, fields of turkeys would drop dead.
Turkeys can drown if they
look up when it is raining.
In Mexico, the turkey was considered a sacrificial bird.
The heaviest turkey ever raised weighed in at 86 pounds -- about
the size of a large German Shepherd -- and was grown in England,
according to Dr. Sarah Birkhold, poultry specialist with the Texas
Agricultural Extension Service.
June is National Turkey Lovers' Month!
Turkeys are the only breed of poultry native to the Western
Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin sat down to eat their first meal on the
moon, their foil food packets contained roasted turkey and all of the
Eating turkey does not
cause you to feel sleepy after your Thanksgiving dinner.
Carbohydrates in your Thanksgiving dinner are the likely cause of