Turkeys are the “It” bird this season, and there’s more to know about them than the right temperatures and ideal baking times. Benjamin Franklin was so fond of turkeys that he recommended they become our national bird; he even preferred them over the Bald Eagle. If you ever come across a wild turkey, don’t look it in the eye… Turkeys follow a pecking order and are known to charge and attack other birds and even people they consider subordinate, especially during their mating season in the spring. Turkeys are native to Northern America, and wild turkeys can be found in every state in the U.S. except Alaska. Turkeys were first domesticated around 800 B.C. in Central America for their meat, and native North American tribes began utilizing their feathers in robes and blankets around 200 B.C.
It’s Only Male Turkeys that Gobble
Turkeys have a mixture of different sounds they use, such as “purrs,” “yelps,” and “kee-kees,” but males only do “gobble” through their mating season. This is why male turkeys are called “gobblers,” while females are called “hens.” Turkeys orignally got their name because turkeys and their close relatives, guinea fowl, were initially brought into Europe by Turkish merchants.
The wild turkey population plunged in the late 19th and early 20th century because of habitat loss and overhunting. Restoration attempts that began in the 1940s were successful, and today wild turkeys have recovered and even grew their original range across parts of Mexico, the U.S., and Canada.
Wild Turkeys Can Fly
It’s a fairly common myth that turkeys can’t fly because they look like such plump birds, but wild turkeys specifically have been known to fly up to 55 mph in brief bouts. For domesticated turkeys, this is, sadly, not the case. They’re bred to be heavier , almost twice as much as a wild turkey, so that they won’t be flying anytime soon.