You might be familiar with the big bird that is a common centerpiece at the Thanksgiving table. But before it lands in your home, it is a pretty interesting bird. Here are some fun turkey facts:
The dinosaur on your plate.
The turkey hasn’t evolved much at all. A University of Kent research team found that suggests that turkeys (and chickens) have experienced fewer changes in their chromosomes than other birds. They are tiny dinosaurs in the woods. Read on.
That wishbone that the kids fight over? It is an energy-storing design that dates back more than 150 million years to a group of meat-eating dinosaurs that include the T. rex and the Velociraptor. Think Jurassic Park and imagine being chased by a flock of gobbling turkeys. Not so scary.
Turkeys can fly.
Despite their weight, wild turkeys can actually fly up into the branches of trees to roost at night. The flock roosts together, and in the morning they call out to each other to make sure every bird is accounted for. The domesticated turkey, however, is too heavy to raise itself off the ground.
When a male is in the company of a female turkey during mating season, the male “blushes.” No, he’s not embarrassed. The blushing signals his prowess to the potential mate. The flap of skin that hangs over his beak, called a snood, also turns red – and it seems that females prefer males with longer snoods. So much for subtle wooing.
We nearly wiped out the wild turkey in North America, when hunting brought the population down to 30,000 birds.
Female turkeys do not gobble.
Only the males create the sound when they show off during mating season. Males try to intimidate other males with sound. Females, on the other hand, limit their chatter to a demure peep.
His and Hers
You can tell a turkey’s gender by looking at its poop. A male turkey (called a “gobbler”) leaves behind spiral-shaped poop. A female, or hen, poops a letter J. We have no idea what she is trying to spell out.