When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of football, food, and festivities. For many it’s the traditional beginning of the holiday season—giving thanks and sharing the feast with family and friends. Probably the most recognized symbol of Thanksgiving is the Turkey. Are you ready for a few turkey fun facts and fictions?

Turkey Fun Truths

Fiction. Turkeys aren’t stupid. They have the ability to recall the lay of the land in their territory—up to 1,000 acres. Turkeys are highly social creatures that form lifetime bonds.

Fun. Turkey’s vision is three times better than 20/20. They see in color, and their field of vision is 270 degrees.

Fact. Baby turkeys are called poults.

Fiction. If you believe turkeys can’t fly, you’re wrong. The can reach speeds in the air up to 60 MPH. If you try to chase a turkey they may not need to fly—they can run 25 MPH.

Fun. Turkeys use more than 20 distinct vocalizations including gobbles, yelps, and kee-kees. Individual turkeys have distinct voices, and a male’s gobble may be heard up to a mile away.

Fact. The piece of flesh hanging over the male’s beak is called a snoud. Recent studies have connected the snoud with turkey health.

Fiction. Turkeys aren’t big chickens. Although they’re from the same family, they have 45 million years of evolutionary separation.

Fun. The average turkey has between 5,000 and 6,000 feathers.

Fact. In the 1900’s turkeys nearly became extinct in North America. They vanished from New England where the pilgrims began the Thanksgiving tradition. Their reintroduction is a lauded success story.

Fun. The bare neck of a male turkey changes colors. Blue means the male is excited. Red means he’s ready to fight.

Fiction. Do you believe turkeys sleep on the ground? Females stay on the ground with offspring for their first two or three weeks the rest of the time they roost in trees. Despite their size and weight, wild turkeys weigh 16-22 pounds, turkeys sleep on branches.

Happy Thanksgiving!  

Who are you sharing Thanksgiving dinner with this year? Whoever it is, share a few turkey fun facts and fiction with them, but wait until he’s time carve the turkey. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.


Facts sourced from the following:

One Kind Education

Audubon Field Guide

Smithsonian Magazine

Audubon.org News and Facts