Turkey Facts (The animal): A healthy portion of fun facts for you to gobble up this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a time when we all gather around the table with friends and family, and stuff ourselves silly with food. Here's a list of turkey facts (the animal) for you to gobble up this Thanksgiving.

 1) In a letter to his daughter, Ben Franklin called the turkey a "respectable bird" and "bird of courage". He also stated he preferred the turkey over the bald eagle as the symbol for the United States of America.

ben franklin turkey, patriotic turkey, murica, thanksgiving

'Murica. Original photos by: Andy McLemore & Daniel Zimmermann


2) The hairless portion of a turkey's head can turn different colors.


3) There are two species of turkey. The bird found in North America's name is Meleagris gallopavo. 


4) In the USA, however, wild turkey and domesticated turkey are the same species.

wild turkey

Photo by: USFWSmidwest

5) The North American turkey used to be called Turkey-coq.

turkey gobble

Video source: David Bacon

6) Two theories about how the turkey got their name are:

  1. When the bird first arrived in Great Britain, it was mistakenly thought to have come from Turkey the country.

  2. British settlers in the US decided to call it by the same name they called the African Guinea fowl - an already popular bird in their homeland.


7) Turkey's have the second heaviest maximum weight of any North American bird. Andean condors (Vultur gryphus) are the heavies

wild turkey

Photo by: James St. John


9) The Californian turkey, Meleagris californica, is an extinct species of turkey indigenous to the Pleistocene and early Holocene of California. It became extinct about 10,000 years ago.

gymnogyps amplus skeleton

Photo by: Sarah Murray



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