November 20, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #23: Turkey Facts


Thirteen Turkey Facts

01. Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys, however, can fly for short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. They can also reach speeds of 25 miles per hour on the ground.

02. Turkeys have great hearing, but no external ears. They can also see in color, and have excellent visual acuity and a wide field of vision (about 270 degrees), which makes sneaking up on them difficult. However, turkeys have a poor sense of smell (what's cooking?), but an excellent sense of taste.

03. Age is a determining factor in taste. Old, large males are preferable to young toms (males) as tom meat is stringy. The opposite is true for females: old hens are tougher birds.

04. In 2007, more than 260 million turkeys were raised with an average live weight per bird of 28 pounds with nearly 6 billion pounds of turkey processed. By contrast, in 1970, only 105 million birds were raised with an average live weight of 17 pounds and 1.5 billion pounds processed.

05. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the U.S. at Thanksgiving—that's one sixth of all turkeys sold in the U.S. each year. American per capita consumption of turkeys has soared from 8.3 pounds in 1975 to 18.5 pounds in 1997. Ten years later, the number has dropped slightly in 2007 to 17.5 pounds.

06. The wild turkey we usually see in photos or pictures is not the same as the domestic turkey that we serve at Thanksgiving.

07. Wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) live in woods in parts of North America and are the largest game birds found in this part of the world. They spend their days foraging for food like acorns, seeds, small insects and wild berries. They spend their nights in low branches of trees (yes, wild turkeys can fly!).

08. At one time, the turkey and the bald eagle were each considered as the national symbol of America. Benjamin Franklin was one of those who argued passionately on behalf of the turkey. Franklin felt the turkey, although "vain and silly", was a better choice than the bald eagle, whom he felt was "a coward".

09. Since 1970, turkey production in the United States has increased nearly 300 percent.

10. The male turkey is called a tom and the female turkey is called a hen.

11. Forty-five million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving. Twenty-two million turkeys are eaten each Christmas.

12. 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

13. The five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey is as a sandwich, in stew, chili or soup, casseroles and as a burger.


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  1. The way some people talk, the only thing turkeys die from is opening their mouths in the rain and drowning. That,and ending up on the dinner table.

  2. whoever said domestic turkeys can't fly.......lied! lol
    my guys routinely roost in the pine trees on our property instead of going into their coop like good kids!
    or they just sit on top of the chicken house and laugh at me when i try to lure them in.
    happy tt!

  3. I always new that old hens were tough birds!

    Happy TT!

  4. Alice...I prefer them to be on my dinner table.

    Jayedee...that would be funny to see.


  5. There's a flock of wild turkeys in my's weird to see them fly and roost in trees LOL!

  6. WOW! I certainly did not know all that! Happy TT

  7. I love the idea of the turkey as the national bird. I suspect it would have different connotations now.

  8. good, timely list. I've seen some of the turkeys in the wild, they are beautiful, yet kind of dumb birds...

  9. We have a flock of wild turkeys near us. I love to watch them.

  10. An interesting post, although being a Brit, I have to wait until Christmas for my turkey.
    I've several hungry weeks ahead of me :-)

  11. I loved your list! Hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


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