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Turkey

Turkeys are intelligent and sensitive animals that are highly social. They create lasting social bonds with each other and are very affectionate; rather similar to dogs.

Turkey's

Facts about turkeys

  • The modern domesticated turkey descends from the wild turkey.
  • Turkeys are known to exhibit over 20 distinct vocalisations. Including a distinctive gobble, produced by males, which can be heard a mile away.
  • Individual turkeys have unique voices. This is how turkeys recognise each other.
  • Turkeys are intelligent and sensitive animals that are highly social. They create lasting social bonds with each other and are very affectionate; rather similar to dogs.
  • Turkeys have outstanding geography skills. They have the ability to learn the precise details of an area over 1,000 acres in size.
  • Like peacocks, male turkeys puff up their bodies and spread their elaborate feathers to attract a mate.
  • Baby turkeys (poults) flock with their mother all year. Although wild turkeys roost in the trees, as poults are unable to fly for the first couple of weeks of their lives, the mother stays with them at ground level to keep them safe and warm until they are strong enough to all roost up in the safety of the trees.
  • Wild turkeys are able to fly at up to 55 mph, however only for relatively short distances. Most domestic turkeys however are unable to fly due to being selectively bred to be larger than would be suitable in wild circumstances.
  • The male is substantially larger than the female, and his feathers have areas of red, purple, green, copper, bronze, and gold iridescence. Female feathers are duller overall, in shades of brown and grey.
  • The area of bare skin on a turkey’s throat and head vary in colour depending on its level of excitement and stress.When excited, a male turkey's head turns blue, when ready to fight it turns red.
  • The long fleshy object over a male's beak is called a snood.
  • Turkeys have 5000 to 6000 feathers.
  • Benjamin Franklin wished to have wild turkeys as the national bird of the USA, rather than the bald eagle. 
  • The turkey is believed to have been sacred in ancient Mexican cultures. The Mayans, Aztecs and Toltecs referred to the turkey as the ‘Great Xolotl’, viewing them as ‘jewelled birds’.
  • The meat from domesticated turkeys is widely eaten by people across the world.

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Quick Facts

  • Type: Bird
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Life span: Up to 10 years in the wild
  • Size: Males: 100–125 cm, females 76 to 95 cm long. The wingspan ranges from 1.25 to 1.44m. 
  • Weight: Wild – 2.5-10 kg. Domestic breeds can be up to double this
  • Habitat: Woodland and grassland
  • Range: Wild – Europe, North America, Hawaii and New Zealand
  • Scientific name: Meleagris gallopavo
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