“Turkeys know their names, come when you call, and are totally affectionate. They’re better than teenagers.” Elayne Boosler
45 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving (22 million are eaten each Christmas and 19 million are eaten each Easter as well), but how much do you really know about turkeys? Here are 6 interesting facts about turkeys and be sure to share with your friends and family!
1. Turkeys are very playful animals. Tom Savage, poultry scientist and animal science professor at Oregon State University, observed that if you throw an apple to a group of turkeys, they will play with it together, almost as though it were a football.
2. Turkeys form strong social bonds with their family and flock mates. In the wild they sometimes travel in groups of 200 or more. When a turkey is removed from her group, she becomes distressed and calls to her flockmates until she is reunited with them.
3. Baby turkeys, called poults, eat berries, seeds and insects, while adults have a more varied diet that can include acorns and even small reptiles.
4. Benjamin Franklin never proposed the turkey as a symbol for America, but he did once praise them as being “a much more respectable bird” than the bald eagle.
5. A wild turkey’s home territory often exceeds 1,000 acres. Turkeys have an incredible knack for remembering locations. They have been known to recall a location they’ve visited only once. They can remember where they found food the year before and will return to the same spot in search of a meal.
6. Male turkey siblings go out courting females together. The siblings display their plumage alongside each other to attract potential mates. Only the dominant brother, however, will mate with interested females.
7. Turkeys make a complex range of sounds. When they want to gather their family group, they make an urgent-sounding call. When a turkey is alarmed, she uses a special “putt,” sound, and every bird in the flock looks up with apprehension. Sometimes a mother will use a “cackle” when entering or leaving a roost to prompt her brood to follow. Turkeys even make a cat-like purr when they are feeling content.