"Turkey Day" Trivia

Want to wow your guests at the Thanksgiving dinner table with your incredible knowledge of turkey trivia?  Check out these "Turkey Day" facts!

  • Most farm raised turkeys are White Hollands. They cannot fly.
  • An adult turkey has about 3500 feathers. Big Bird’s costume (from Sesame Street) was made from nearly 4000 white turkey feathers, dyed yellow.
  • Wild turkeys can glide almost a mile without flapping their wings. Over short distances, they can fly 55 mph and run 20 mph.
  • Acorns are the wild turkeys’ favorite food. Because they have a poor sense of taste and smell, they choose acorns by size and shape.
  • A turkey’s head will change colors when it’s excited.
  • Wild turkeys spend the night in trees.
  • A male turkey is called a tom, the female is called a hen and the babies, poults. Immature turkeys are called jake (male) and jenny (female).
  • How to tell toms from hens:
    • Toms are larger, have longer legs and bigger heads. Their wattle (growth under the chin) and snood (fleshy growth over the bill) are also longer.
    • Toms grow a beard – long black feathers on their chest. The beard grows about 4 inches per year and keeps growing throughout their lifetime. Eventually, it drags the ground.
    • Male turkeys gobble and females make a clucking sound.
  • During mating season, a male turkey gobbles loudly and struts around, puffing out his chest, fanning his large tail and dragging his wingtips on the ground. 
  • As male turkeys get older, they fight a lot and may attack humans. 
  • About 180,000 wild turkeys live in Virginia, most of them in the Tidewater, South Mountain and South Piedmont regions. 

Turkey history -

  • Wild turkeys are native to the eastern US and northern Mexico.  They have lived in North America for almost 10 million years. 
  • Wild turkeys were domesticated in Mexico and introduced in Europe in the 16th century. 
  • In the 1700s, turkeys were walked to market and wore booties to protect their feet. 
  • Ben Franklin thought the wild turkey should be our national bird instead of the bald eagle. 
  • Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ate turkey for their first meal on the moon. 
  • Wild turkeys almost became extinct in the early 1900s because of habitat destruction and overhunting. 
  • The Turkey Trot was a ballroom dance popular in the early 1900s. The Turkey Trot 10K is a race run every Thanksgiving in Richmond.

Thanksgiving turkey facts –

  • Over 45 million turkeys are eaten every Thanksgiving.
  • The average American eats 17.5 pounds of turkey per year.
  • US turkey production has increased over 300% since 1970.
  • Turkey meat is low in fat and high in protein.
  • White meat has fewer calories than dark meat.