Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and as households across the country prepare to serve up mouthwatering feasts, the famed bird at the center of these festivities deserve the spotlight.
Wild turkeys can fly can top out at about 55 miles per hour (89 km/h), according to the National Wildlife Federation. Domestic turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), however, can't fly because they are too heavy. These birds have been fattened up over generations for the holiday dinner table.
Examining a turkey's droppings can tell you if a male or a female bird passed through the area. The feces of male turkeys are J-shaped, and also straighter and larger than a female's, according to the state of Georgia's wildlife resources division. Hen droppings, on the other hand, look more like a spiral.
Male turkeys heads change color. Males normally have almost no feathers on their heads, when it comes time to breed, the colors on their head can change between red, white, and blue — sometimes within seconds, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation. Generally, the rest of a turkey's body is green, bronze, gold, and red, while hens are typically brown or grey (good for hiding, especially while on the nest).
Turkeys use stones for digestion. When eating, turkeys ingest small stones that go into a part of their stomachs called the gizzard, which helps the turkey break down food. This process is necessary because turkeys, like all birds, don't have teeth. In fact, turkeys have two stomachs: the glandular stomach that softens the food with gastric juices, and the gizzard that grinds it up for the intestines or the first stomach, if needed.
Only male turkeys gobble. Each gobbler has a unique call he uses to attract females during breeding season. Female turkeys also make distinct noises, but they sound more like chirps and clucks.