5 Amazing Facts About Turkeys

By Colleen Beaty|November 25, 2013

Photo courtesy Getty Images.

Photo courtesy Getty Images.

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. When they need to, turkeys can also swim by tucking their wings in close, spreading their tails, and kicking their legs.
  5. 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!

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