Turkey is a well-known holiday staple, but how much do you actually know about the birds? We’ve rounded up a few facts to help you learn more about the main course at your Thanksgiving feast.
20. Turkeys Are Comparable To Dogs When It Comes To Cuddling
Caretakers at turkey sanctuaries have said the birds enjoy curling up to cuddle and having their feathers stroked. That’s not weird at all! Especially when it comes to preparing your holiday meal…
19. Wild Turkeys Were Close To Being Endangered At One Point
There were only 30,000 estimated wild turkeys in the 1800s thanks to their popularity as a game bird. Through restoration programs, there’s said to be more than seven million wild birds today.
18. Turkeys Can Be Heard Up To A Mile Away
Turkeys are actually very vocal creatures, with their loudest sounds being heard up to a mile away.
17. Wild Turkeys Are Able To Fly Up To 55 MPH
Contrary to popular belief, turkeys can fly! Wild turkeys can fly up to 55 mph, however, they typically fly lower to the ground which may explain why we never see them soaring among the other birds.
16. Eating Turkey Doesn’t Make You Sleepy
Despite what people may think, the popular Thanksgiving poultry doesn’t contain enough tryptophan to make people tired. Instead, the sleepy feeling is contributed to the over-eating most people partake in on the holiday.
15. Their Heads Change Colors Depending On Their Mood
Their heads can change from red to pink, and even to blue and gray depending on their moods.
14. Turkeys Have Amazing Eye Sight
Not only do they have a 360-degree field of vision when they rotate their heads, but turkeys also see in color with an eye sight that’s better than 20/20 vision.
13. They Sleep In Trees
Turkeys will roost in trees during the night as a precaution against predators. It’s said they keep watch over one another throughout the night and take a “head count” in the morning by softly gobbling to eachother.
12. Turkeys Can Travel In Groups Of More Than 200 Birds
It’s not uncommon to see turkeys traveling in large groups, even in the wild. Some sources differientiate a wild group of turkeys as a “flock,” while a domestic group is a “rafter.”
11. They Were Named After The Country
Turkeys got their name from the country in which similar birds were once imported into Europe. They reminded Europeans of African Guinea Fowl, which were imported into Europe through Central Turkey. However, not all countries refer to the birds as “turkeys.” In fact, it gets a little complicated depending on which country we’re talking about.
10. The Birds Are Called Different Things Based On Age And Gender
Baby turkeys are referred to as “poults,” while young males are “jakes,” and young females are “jennies.” Adult males are “toms,” and adult females are “hens.” Confused yet?
9. Ben Franklin Thought Of Them As More Respectable Than Bald Eagles
Ben Franklin thought more highly of turkeys than he did the national bird. Franklin referred to turkeys as a “bird of courage.”
8. Families Eat 50 Million Turkeys On Thanksgiving
Of course, this is an estimate, but it’s a sound one as millions of families sit down to enjoy their Thanksgiving feasts. And it’s no wonder grocery stores start stocking up on the birds in the weeks leading up to the holiday!
7. Only Male Turkeys Can “Gobble”
Male turkeys are responsible for the “gobble” sound, while females only make a clicking sound.
6. The Biggest Turkey Ever Weighed 86 Pounds
A turkey named Tyson holds the record of being the heaviest bird at 86 pounds. He was entered into a 1989 contest and has yet to be beat for the title.
5. Turkey Sanctuaries Exist All Over The Country
That’s right, sanctuaries actually exist to take in rescued birds. We aren’t quite sure what they’re being rescued from, but just know there is a group of dedicated individuals out there taking in the turkeys. In fact, Farm Sanctuary, one such rescue organization, has an “Adopt a Turkey Project” that allows people to adopt a bird for $30.
4. Store-Bought Turkeys Are Injected With A Saline-Oil
Before you freak out, you should know the oil dissipates during cooking. Stores use the oil to help make the birds look plumper and more attractive to shoppers.
3. Fresh Turkeys Cook Faster Than Store-Bought
This is due to the additives used in commercial birds. However, the extra cooking time may be worth not having to clean your own turkey.
2. Turkeys Are Known To Be Intelligent And Have Personalities
This one may make you think twice about the main dish at your Thanksgiving meal. Turkeys are known to have distinct personalities and are believed to form bonds with one another.
1. They’re An Amazing Source Of Low-Calorie Protein
Turkeys offer just as much, if not more, protein as chicken and beef. Plus, turkey is lower in fat and calories than some cuts of beef. It’s a win-win! Except for the turkey, that is.