Here are 14 turkey facts you might not have known:
- In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations. Each year, the average American eats somewhere between 16 – 18 pounds of turkey. Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States. 97% of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey at Thanksgiving.
- The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds. The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.
- Turkeys have about 3,500 feathers at maturity. Most turkey feathers are composted. The costume that “Big Bird” wears on Sesame Street is rumored to be made of turkey feathers. Turkeys have been bred to have white feathers because white feathers have no spots under the skin when plucked.
- Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly but wild turkeys can fly up to 55 miles per hour. . Turkeys will swim and can run 20 miles per hour.
- A large group of turkeys is called a flock. The male turkey is called a tom. The female turkey is called a hen. Baby turkeys are called poults.
- Male turkeys gobble. Hens make a clucking noise. Tom turkeys have beards which is a black clump of hairlike feathers on their breast. Hens sometimes have beards, too. The fleshy growth under a turkey’s throat is called a wattle and the long, red, fleshy area that grows from the forehead over the bill is called a snood.
- Turkeys can have heart attacks. The United States Air Force was doing test runs and breaking the sound barrier. Nearby turkeys dropped dead with heart attacks.
- Turkeys have poor night vision but very good full-color vision and make direct eye-contact as soon as they hatch.
- Turkey hens normally sit on a clutch of about 12 eggs which are tan with brown specks and larger than chicken eggs. Turkeys inside the egg communicate with the mother hen long before they are born. Turkey eggs hatch after 28 days.
10. Ben Franklin, in a letter to his daughter, proposed the turkey as the official United States bird.
11. Turkeys’ heads change colors when they become excited.
12. The ballroom dance the “turkey trot” was named for the short, jerky steps that turkeys take.
13. For their first meal on the moon, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin ate roasted turkey in foil packets.
14. Contrary to popular myth, eating turkey does not cause you to feel sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner. Carbohydrates in your Thanksgiving dinner are the likely cause of your sleepiness.