Cole’s November Bird of the Month – Five Fun Facts About Turkeys

Five Facts about Turkeys Featured Image

Turkeys Can Fly

Turkey Are Missing From The First Thanksgiving

According to the Washington Post, there is no proof that turkey was on the dinner table during that famous feast of 1621. Historical documents do reveal the mention of deer and fowl, but no specific bird is named. William Bradford, who served as governor of Plymouth Colony, mentioned “wild turkeys” in a letter. But, no one cites turkey on the menu that day.  President George Washington made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1789. President Lincoln moved the holiday from November 26th to the fourth Thursday of November in 1863. Turkey became a popular dish for Thanksgiving only after a magazine editor wrote a recipe for turkey and dressing in the mid 1800’s.

Turkeys Are Hunters

Did you know turkeys are omnivorous creatures, meaning their diet includes a wide range of food, from both animal and plants.  Wild turkeys will munch on acorns, berries, small reptiles, snakes, frogs, salamanders, large insects, snails, slugs, and worms. They will also indulge in sand and gravel for grit. Commercially raised turkeys are the types that are usually sold for food. Those turkeys are likely to be fed very specific grains, and some graze on weeds and grasses.

Turkeys Snooze Up In The Air

Turkeys are large and heavy birds, so you might assume they prefer hanging out on the ground. However, turkeys like to perch on top of tree branches when they snooze. This helps to keep them safe from predators like coyotes, foxes, and even raccoons. Turkeys usually sleep in flocks, and when it’s time to wake up, they call out to the rest of the group to make sure their fellow turkey buddies made it through the night in one piece before coming down.

Wild Turkeys Are Speedy

Turkeys, despite their size, can fly and they can reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. They usually fly low to the ground because they find food while on the ground. But, they can fly short distances quickly. Domesticated turkeys, those raised for food, have become so “fattened up” that they have lost the ability to fly.

Turkeys Have Two Stomachs

One is called the glandular stomach. This is where food is softened and broken down. The broken down food then enters the turkey’s gizzard. The gizzard has tiny stones that turkeys typically swallow. These stones are called gastroliths and help with breaking down food for digestion because turkeys don’t have teeth. A turkey’s gizzard is very muscular and turns the food  into mulch before sending it to the intestines.  Sometimes food can be moved back into the glandular stomach, if more digestion is necessary.

Turkeys are fascinating birds with the ability to sleep in trees, hunt animals,  and protect the flock. This Thanksgiving, remember and share these five fun facts about your feathered friends.


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