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.