The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is an instantly recognizable bird whether it is in the field or on the table, but how much do you really know about these uniquely North American birds?
1. Wild turkeys were honored by both the Aztecs and the Mayans, often with special religious ceremonies.
2. The wild turkey was nearly extinct in the 1930s because of overhunting and habitat loss.
3.The bald head of a turkey can change color in seconds with different emotions and may be blue, pink, red, or white.
4. Wild turkeys can run up to 25 miles per hour, and can fly up to 55 miles per hour.
5. The gobble-gobble call of an adult turkey can be heard up to one mile away.
6. Wild turkeys have vision that is three times better than humans and they can see across 270 degrees.
7. An adult wild turkey has approximately 5,500 feathers, but only 18 of the iconic tail feathers.
8. The first presidential pardon of a domestic turkey for Thanksgiving was in 1947.
9. The wild turkey is the official game bird of three states: Alabama, Massachusetts, and South Carolina.
10. Today there are more than seven million wild turkeys, and they can be legally hunted in many states – often for Thanksgiving dinner!
Check out this pack of wild turkeys that has been frequenting my neighborhood in Missoula! Hopefully some of you snagged one of your own for Thanksgiving dinner.
Facts originally taken from an examiner article here. Feature photo from wikipedia here.