Turkeys are large birds that are native to the forests of North America (especially Canada and the United States). Frequently hunted for their meat, turkeys were domesticated and the “domestic turkey” is now considered to be a second species that descended from the wild turkeys.
Male turkeys (sometimes called “Tom Turkeys”) are usually larger and more aggressive than females (that are called “hens”). They have a bit of red flesh that hangs from their beaks and this bit of skin is called a “protuberance.” Like many birds, the males are more colorful than the females.
Male turkeys usually do a sort of “dance” and make loud “gobble” sounds in order to attract females. Hens gestate their eggs for 28 days. Each batch of eggs is called a “clutch” of eggs and a single hen can lay 12-14 eggs in each clutch! Generally, turkeys breed once a year and baby turkeys are known as “poults.”
Turkeys roost in trees, under bushes or even in hen houses. They can only fly very short distances so, although they are not completely flightless birds, they certainly are not migratory. They are very protective of their young and they can recognize turkeys who are “outsiders” to their groups and spaces.
Wild turkeys and domestic turkeys range wildly in size. Wild turkeys are usually between 18-25 pounds and generally stand about 48 inches (approximately four feet tall). Domestic turkeys are similar in height (or somewhat smaller) but they can easily reach 38-40 pounds—mostly due to being fattened up by humans. The meat of domestic turkeys is incredibly popular for human meals, especially around the American holiday known as Thanksgiving.
Although domestic turkeys are commonly used for dinner, they are sometimes found as pets on farms. Furthermore, many wild turkeys still roam around places in the United States—usually living peacefully alongside their human neighbors and sometimes irking people due to their sometimes-aggressive actions. Although some people see turkeys merely as a source of sustenance, they are interesting creatures that are native to the land of the free. In fact, some people believe that the turkey—not the eagle—should have been the national bird of the United States!