Thanksgiving is always a bad news for a turkey, so it is appropriate to give it at least five minutes of glory. Here are …
Top seven interesting facts about turkeys
1. A turkey is native to America. It was first domesticated in Mexico and introduced to Europe in the 16th century with return of conquistadors. It came to England from Mediterranean sea and people bought these new birds (to them) from so called Turkey merchants. So they called them Turkey birds and soon they shorten it to turkeys. In many other languages (including Turkish) a turkey is called bird from India from then unanimous belief they were brought from India, which was only later corrected to actually be a new continent – America. Turkeys were brought to USA from Europe, not directly from Mexico.
2. There is also a popular myth about turkey being a candidate for USA national symbol instead of bald eagle. The fact is Benjamin Franklin questioned the bald eagle as being appropriate because this bird has questionable moral. It is not a hard worker but rather lazy robber and also a coward which can be banished out of the area by much smaller birds. Benjamin Franklin was also unhappy with the design. Bald eagle looked to him more like a turkey, which, by the way is much more proud and brave enough to attack an armed solder to protect his territory, so it seemed better symbol than eagle to Franklin but he never suggested it becomes one.
3. Wild turkey is biggest game bird in America. It can fly relatively fast (up to 55 mph or 88 kph) but only on short distances. It is fast on feet too. With 25 mph (about 40 kph) it is faster than fastest sprinters among humans even without doping! Turkeys can be loud too. Their gobbles and clucks can be hear more than mile (about 1.6 kilometers) away. This way they can show their presence to females and competing males.
4. It roosts in the trees but nests on the ground because poults can’t fly for the first month or so although they are able to search for food on their own within 24 hour after hatching. All this time mothers stays with them to protect them and keep them warm. Mothers stay around their little ones for about one year and turkeys maintain strong social bonds. Fathers (called toms or gobblers) don’t interfere with families because they mate with as many hens as possible. Domesticated turkeys can’t fly due their weight.
5. Male turkeys are much larger than female turkeys. Their feather can be of yellow, red, purple, green, copper, bronze, gold color. They use to show up like peacocks. Hens on the other side prefer camouflage colors like brown and gray. On very rare occasions we can find wild albino turkeys.
6. Average turkey in store has 15 pounds (7 kilograms). It takes about 40 pounds (18 kilograms) of feed to achieve this mass. Such turkey has roughly 70 percent of white and 30 percent of dark meat. Because whire meat is more popular, through many years of selection turkey breasts became so huge they get in the way and male can’t mount on female. Domesticated turkeys are in almost all cases product of artificial insemination. Prize of such meet is only about one third of the price of the so called heritage turkeys (they were ‘made’ the natural way).
7. Domesticated turkeys are of weak health. Probably thanks to their obesity they have chronic problems with joints, hearts and breathing and even the pardoned turkeys (it is a tradition an American president pardons two on every Thanksgiving) die relatively soon (about a year) after time when they would be slaughtered anyway. Because the pardoning is for the show only two birds are always pardoned. One for the public and other as backup. The birds are selected for pardoning at birth and are trained for public appearances with crowd, flash lights and loud sounds.