|Photo credit: Art Kirsch (Senior DEC Wildlife Biologist, Region 8) Naples, NY|
1. Ben Franklin (yes, a Founding Father of the USA, no, not a President) didn’t want the Bald Eagle to be our country’s mascot!
“For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly…like those among men who live by sharping and robbing…he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward; the little king-bird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district…For in truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America. Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey was peculiar to ours…”- As written in a letter. (LiveScience)
2. Turkeys can blush!
When a turkey becomes frightened, agitated, excited or ill, the exposed skin on its head and neck can change from its usual pale pink or bluish gray color to red, white, or blue. And during mating season, the male turkey’s wattle turns scarlet to reflect his elevated sex hormone levels. The fleshy flap of skin that hangs over the gobbler’s beak is called a snood and also turns bright red when the bird is excited. (LiveScience)
3. Turkeys eat rocks!
A part of the bird’s stomach, called the gizzard, contains tiny stones that the bird has previously swallowed. Also known as gastroliths, these polished stones aid in the breakdown of food for digestion, since birds do not have teeth. (LiveScience)
4. Periscope eyeballs.
A turkeys eyes are located on opposite sides of its head. The position of the eyes allows the animal to see two objects at once, but limits its depth perception. Turkeys have a wide field of vision and by moving their neck, they can gain a 360-degree field of view. (About.com)
5. There is actually a “Turkey Lovers Month”…
According to the National Turkey Federation, 95 percent of Americans surveyed eat turkey during Thanksgiving. They also estimate that about 45 million turkeys are consumed during this time. This translates to about 675 million pounds of turkey. With that being said, one would think that November would be National Turkey Lovers’ Month. The month of June however is dedicated to turkey lovers. (About.com)
6. There once was a turkey SHORTAGE in America!
Wild turkey populations dwindled to fewer than 30,000 birds by the 1930s due to habitat destruction and unregulated shooting. Today, there are roughly 6.4 million wild turkeys. They can be found in every state except Alaska (although while I was in Alaska this summer, a man I met had a flock of wild turkeys on his farm that he brought up from the lower 48!). (10000 Birds)
7. Turkeys can ballroom dance.
The ballroom dance the “turkey trot” was named for the short, jerky steps that turkeys take. (10000 Birds)
8. Turkeys can MOVE!
Turkeys can run at speeds up to 25 mph, and they can fly up to 55 mph. (National Wild Turkey Foundation)
9. The bearded ladies.
Typically male Turkeys sport a “beard”, which is really just a modified feather that hangs from their chest. This is a secondary sexual charasteristic, much like antlers on a deer. This characteristic does not define the sex of animal, but in this case, the beards and antlers are USUALLY expressed on males. This being said, female Turkeys can show a beard, and does can show antlers…rarely, but they can (if they have higher levels of testosterone than ‘normal’)! (This is all me, I knew this!)
AND 10. When you wish upon a…turkey?!
The wishbone that so many of us break on Thanksgiving vying for luck is actually called “furcula” (little fork). Why do they have these bones? The furcula is thought at least in part to store energy during flight during a half wing stroke and then release it back. (Huffington Post)
Hey, have a great Thanksgiving… please be thankful and spread the love!