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Just in time for Thanksgiving here in the U.S., I’m here to bring you 5 amazing facts about the most iconic symbol of the holiday – turkeys!
- Turkeys are one of only 2 native North American species that have been domesticated. (The other species is the Muscovy duck.) Domestic turkeys can be distinguished from wild turkeys by the tips of their tails: domestic turkeys have white tail tips, while wild turkeys have chestnut brown tail tips.
- Male turkeys have a lobe of skin called a wattle that hangs down from the neck or chin. The sole function of the wattle is to make the male turkey more attractive to females – large wattles are correlated with high testosterone levels, good nutrition, and the ability to evade predators, indicating a potentially successful mate.
- At night, turkeys fly up into trees to roost in flocks. Despite their awkward, plump build, turkeys are able to fly short distances, just like chickens.
- When they need to, turkeys can also swim by tucking their wings in close, spreading their tails, and kicking their legs.
- Although wild turkeys were once threatened by unsustainable hunting, habitat conservation efforts combined with the transplanting of wild-caught turkeys into new areas have helped turkey numbers rebound since the mid-20th century. Wild turkeys are now numerous and their populations are secure throughout their range.
Happy Thanksgiving from WHC! Gobble gobble!