Turkeys are interesting wild birds that love to eat berries and bugs. If you want to learn more about them, you can get all the fun facts about where turkeys live, what they look like, how many breeds there are, and so much more right here. You might surprise everyone with your turkey trivia knowledge this Thanksgiving!
Interesting & Fun Turkey Facts for Kids
Turkeys are much more than just Thanksgiving dinner. They are fascinating birds with a few curious quirks. These facts about turkeys will reveal cool facts like what you call a boy or girl turkey and why turkeys are linked to Benjamin Franklin!
- The scientific name for a wild turkey is Meleagris gallopavo.
- Turkeys are large birds that can fly for short distances — approximately 100 yards.
- Wild turkeys have some major leg strength and can run at speeds of about 20 miles per hour.
- When in flight, their speeds more than double, reaching up to 55 miles per hour.
- Turkeys are also skilled swimmers!
- Boy turkeys are called toms or gobblers, and girl turkeys are called hens.
- On a quiet day, gobbling turkeys can be heard up to a mile away!
- Groups of these animals are called a rafter, a gaggle, or a flock.
- You can tell the difference between a male turkey and a female turkey by the shape of their poop.
- Male turkeys have poop shaped like the letter J and female turkeys have poop that is shaped like a spiral.
- Older turkeys also have larger-sized poop than their younger flockmates.
- During mating season, turkeys will dance and strut around each other. Maybe that's where the turkey trot came from!
- There is a myth that Ben Franklin wanted the national bird to be a turkey. In reality, he just thought the first eagle design looked like a turkey.
- Turkeys have excellent eyesight during the day and a 270-degree field of vision. They also have great hearing, but a horrible sense of smell.
- Turkeys can blush when they are scared or mad.
- Turkeys also have two stomachs. One is the true stomach, and the other is the gizzard for breaking down food since they don't have teeth.
- Turkeys actually got their name from the country Turkey.
There are several types of turkeys, including the Eastern, Merriam, Rio Grande, and Osceola.
- The first president to receive a National Thanksgiving Turkey was President Harry Truman. The tradition started in 1947.
- George H.W. Bush started the formal tradition of pardoning the turkey in 1989.
Terrific Turkey Facts About Their Looks and Behavior
When it comes to fun facts about turkeys, there are a lot of them. Turkeys have a unique look to them and several exciting features you don't see on other birds. Find out about things like turkey warts and their growing beards!
- Turkeys have a red "thing" on their neck called a wattle. This weird feature helps them release excess heat from their bodies.
- The red warty stuff on a turkey's head and neck are called caruncles.
- The odd appendage that drapes over the turkey's beak is called a snood.
- Turkeys have multiple feature colors, from green to gold.
- Female turkeys will purr when they are happy, just like a cat.
- Male turkeys are the only ones that make the gobble sound.
- Turkeys have a giant plume like a peacock, and over 5,000 feathers.
- Female and male turkeys have warts on their heads, but males have more.
- Domesticated turkeys can't fly. This is why most people think turkeys are flightless birds.
- The reason they can't fly is that their breasts are too big and too muscular!
- Turkey breeding prioritizes large breasts and sometimes they grow so large the birds fall over!
- The beard on a turkey grows longer every year — growing 3-5 inches.
- The longest recorded turkey beard was on a wild turkey. It measured 22.5 inches.
- Turkeys have doubled in size over the last few decades.
- Male wild turkeys can weigh up to 25 pounds, and females weigh up to only around 15 pounds.
The heaviest recorded turkey, taking the Guinness World Record title in 1989, was 86 pounds! The turkey's name was Tyson.
Facts About Baby Turkeys for Kids
Just like other birds, turkeys lay eggs. But they are unique in how and why they lay their eggs. Turkeys are also fearless parents. Fly into a few more fun facts about baby turkeys!
- A mother hen only lays 10-12 eggs.
- It takes 28 days for a baby turkey to hatch.
- Baby and young turkeys can't fly like the adults. They have to wait until they get older to be able to soar.
- A baby turkey is a chick or poult, just like a chicken.
- After five weeks, a young bird is called a Jake or a Jenny.
- Wild baby turkeys are omnivores and eat nuts, insects, and berries.
- Baby turkeys typically stay with their parents in the flock for at least four to five months.
- Turkey moms are responsible creatures and don't leave their eggs unattended. They want to make sure predators can't get them.
- Father turkeys will watch for predators, too, especially raccoons.
- Since turkey babies don't have teeth, a mother mashes their food.
Cool Facts About Turkey Habitats
Did you know turkeys are found all over the United States? They also like to roost in trees when they are napping. Learn more interesting and unique facts about where turkeys live below!
- Turkeys are raised on farms and found in the wild.
- Turkeys like to live in wooded and forest areas.
- Turkeys are native to the United States and Canada.
- The ocellated turkey is native to Mexico.
- Turkeys sleep in flocks in trees.
- They nest in areas with good cover to keep their babies safe.
- You can find wild turkeys in 49 of the U.S. states. But they aren't hip on Alaska.
- Turkeys do not migrate long distances during the winter. They roost in trees instead.
- Other countries, like New Zealand, introduced wild turkeys to their natural environments.
- Turkeys can live in grasslands, but prefer hardwood forests.
Facts About Turkey as Food
You've probably had a little turkey at some point in your life, from a turkey sandwich to a turkey dinner. Turkey is a common food eaten in America. However, Americans aren't the ones who eat the most turkey. Find out who does, and a few other turkey food facts you might not know.
- Turkey is one of the top dishes served on Christmas and Thanksgiving.
- Turkey is high in protein and has fewer calories than beef.
- Turkey contains an amino acid called tryptophan that's linked with sleepiness, which is why people get tired after eating Thanksgiving dinner.
- Domesticated turkeys are bred to have white feathers because this prevents pigment spots under the feathers. In other words, it makes a more attractive Thanksgiving turkey!
- June is National Turkey Lover's Month.
- Israelis eat the most turkey per year.
- Turkey meat is used in pet food.
- Turkeys are made up of white and dark meat.
- Many states have wild turkey hunting seasons.
- The TV dinner was inspired by Thanksgiving turkeys! After seeing "260 tons of frozen turkey left over after Thanksgiving," a Swanson salesman came up with the idea!
- Turkey populations take a big hit around the holidays. "46 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving, 22 million on Christmas and 19 million turkeys on Easter."
- Those whole turkeys are almost always females while your turkey cold cuts and processed products are males.
- Turkeys are connected with Thanksgiving feasts thanks to Abraham Lincoln.
- Once he made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, they have been gracing our tables and our plates.