The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is an upland ground bird native to North America and is the heaviest member of the diverse Galliformes. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which was originally derived from a southern Mexican subspecies of wild turkey (not the related ocellated turkey). Although native to North America, the turkey probably got its name from the domesticated variety being imported to Britain in ships coming from the Levant via Spain. The British at the time therefore associated the Wild Turkey with the country Turkey and the name prevails. [Wikipedia]
Most North American kids learn turkey identification early, by tracing outlines of their hands to make Thanksgiving cards. These big, spectacular birds are an increasingly common sight the rest of the year, too, as flocks stride around woods and clearings like miniature dinosaurs. Courting males puff themselves into feathery balls and fill the air with exuberant gobbling. The Wild Turkey’s popularity at the table led to a drastic decline in numbers, but they have recovered and now occur in every state except Alaska. [All About Birds]
Wild Turkey Facts [All About Birds]
- In the early 1500s, European explorers brought home Wild Turkeys from Mexico, where native people had domesticated the birds centuries earlier. Turkeys quickly became popular on European menus thanks to their large size and rich taste from their diet of wild nuts. Later, when English colonists settled on the Atlantic Coast, they brought domesticated turkeys with them.
- Male Wild Turkeys provide no parental care. Newly hatched chicks follow the female, who feeds them for a few days until they learn to find food on their own. As the chicks grow, they band into groups composed of several hens and their broods. Winter groups sometimes exceed 200 turkeys.
- As Wild Turkey numbers dwindled through the early twentieth century, people began to look for ways to reintroduce this valuable game bird. Initially, they tried releasing farm turkeys into the wild, but those birds didn’t survive. In the 1940s, people began catching wild birds and transporting them to other areas. Such transplantations allowed Wild Turkeys to spread to all of the lower 48 states (plus Hawaii) and parts of southern Canada.
- Because of their large size, compact bones, and long-standing popularity as a dinner item, turkeys have a better-known fossil record than most other birds. Turkey fossils have been unearthed across the southern United States and Mexico, some of them dating from more than 5 million years ago.
6 comments on “Wild Turkey”
Wow 5 million years!!
I was shocked by that fact.
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Hi, how are you. Another very interesting piece. Remind me about where you’re located please. I am in Jamaica currently.
Hey, thanks for visiting my blog. I am in Delaware.