49 Things you've wanted to know about turkeys
This year thousands of Americans will roast turkeys for traditional Thanksgiving dinner, so this month we're giving you 49 facts about this delicious bird. How much do you know about turkeys? Read to find out.
Published: Monday, November 5, 2007
Updated: Saturday, April 9, 2011 18:04
1. About 675 million pounds of turkey are eaten each Thanksgiving in the United States. That's about 45 million turkeys! 2. Most of the turkeys raised for commercial production are White Hollands.
3. Turkey breeding has caused turkey breasts to grow so large that the turkeys fall over.
4. The five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey are as a sandwich, in stew, chili or soup, casseroles and burger.
5. White meat has fewer calories and less fat than dark meat.
6. Contrary to popular belief, it is not eating turkey at Thanksgiving that makes you sleepy. Post-feast drowsiness may have more to do with everything else on your plate, especially carbohydrates.
7. How long have these guys been around anyway? Turkeys lived almost 10 million years ago!
8. Gobbling turkeys can be heard a mile away on a quiet day.
9. A large group of turkeys is called a flock.
10. Turkeys are related to pheasants.
11. Turkey eggs are tan with brown specks and are larger than chicken eggs.
12. Their eggs hatch in only 28 days.
13. Baby turkeys are called poults, and are tan and brown.
14. A 16-week-old turkey is called a fryer. A five-to-seven-month-old turkey is called a young roaster and a yearling is a year old. Any turkey 15 months or older is called mature.
15. The male turkey is called a tom; a female is called a hen.
16. Tom turkeys have beards. These are black, hair-like feathers on their breast. Hens sometimes have beards, too.
17. Turkeys have many vocalizations: "gobbles," "clucks," "putts," "purrs," "yelps," "cutts," "cackles" and "kee-kees."
18. Male turkeys gobble to announce their presence to females and competing males. Hens "yelp" to let gobblers know their location. Hens rarely "gobble."
19. A domesticated male turkey can reach a weight of 30 pounds within 18 weeks after hatching.
20. The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds!
21. Their feathers were used by Native Americans to stabilize arrows and adorn ceremonial dress, and the spurs on the legs of wild tom turkeys were used as projectiles on arrowheads.
22. Turkeys will have 3,500 feathers at maturity.
23. The Native Americans hunted wild turkey for its sweet, juicy meat as early as 1000 A.D.
24. The wild turkey is native to northern Mexico and the eastern United States.
25. The turkey was domesticated in Mexico and brought to Europe in the 16th century.
26. Turkeys are believed to have been brought to Britain in 1526 by Yorkshireman William Strickland. He acquired six turkeys from American Indian traders and sold them for tuppence in Bristol.
27. Henry VIII was the first English king to enjoy turkey and Edward VII made turkey eating fashionable at Christmas.
28. Ben Franklin proposed the turkey as the official United States bird. He believed the Bald Eagle was a "bird of bad moral character."
29. In England, 200 years ago, turkeys were walked to market in herds. They wore booties to protect their feet. Turkeys were also walked to market in the United States.
30. Wild turkeys were almost wiped out in the early 1900s. Today there are wild turkeys in every state except Alaska.
31. Turkeys have a long, red, fleshy area called a snood that grows from the forehead over the bill.
32. The fleshy growth under a turkey's throat is called a wattle.
33. The caruncle is a red-pink fleshy growth on the head and upper neck of the turkey.
34. A turkey's brain is about the size of a walnut and it is said that it has fewer brain cells than a cockroach.
35. Turkeys can drown if they look up when it's raining.
36. Turkeys have heart attacks. The United States Air Force was doing test runs and breaking the sound barrier. Nearby turkeys dropped dead with heart attacks.
37. Wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 miles per hour and can run 20 per hour.
38. Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly.
39. Wild turkeys spend the night in trees. They especially like oak trees.
40. Turkeys don't really have ears like ours, but they have very good hearing.
41. Turkey's heads change colors when they become excited.
42. Turkey skins are tanned and used to make cowboy boots and belts.
43. Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey and two dressed turkeys to the President. The President does not eat the live turkey. He "pardons" it and allows it to live out its days on a historical farm.
44. For their first meal on the moon, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin ate roast turkey in foil packets.
45. Turkeys can see movement almost a hundred yards away.
46. The ballroom dance the "turkey trot" was named for the short, jerky steps that turkeys take.
47. There are a number of places in the United States named after the holiday's traditional main course. Turkey, Texas, Turkey Creek, La., and Turkey, N.C.. There also are nine townships around the country named "Turkey," three in Kansas.
48. The costume that Big Bird wears on Sesame Street is rumored to be made of turkey feathers.
49. So when else can we celebrate this bird? June is National Turkey Lover's Month!