Nov 26
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Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

I am fascinated by Wild Turkeys. Aren’t we all when it’s Thanksgiving? They are large, beautiful birds.

Early historical reports show amazing numbers of turkey populations.

In 1540 Hernando de Soto’s soldiers were given large numbers of turkeys; 700 in one account.

In 1612 an author wrote that Wild Turkeys were like pheasants in England; forty in a company and the best meat for eating.

Another report from the early 1800’s chronicled a thousand birds in the woods one day.

With a seemingly endless abundance and such good eating, the turkey was heavily hunted by settlers. Also, habitat loss with westward movement was an additional blow to the turkey population. By the 1930’s there were only 30,000 birds left in North America.

However, with conservation and reintroduction efforts the Wild Turkey is now 7 million strong. They can be found in every state (including a localized population in Alaska) as well as parts of Canada and Mexico.

I am so pleased this North American icon is once again very abundant.

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Nov 23
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Thanksgiving finds many of us talking about and eating the domestic turkey; let alone all the trimmings. Being an avid bird watcher, I thought it apropos to share some interesting facts about the Wild Turkey (the bird, not the adult beverage).

The Wild Turkey is quite the success story. In the early 20th century, there were less than 30,000 in the US due to loss of habitat and heavy-hunting pressure. However, with strong conservation efforts and sustainable hunting practices, there are now over 7 million in the US and Canada.

Wild Turkeys are related to other birds such as grouse, ptarmigan, prairie-chicken and pheasant.

What does a turkey weigh? The heaviest domestic turkey weighed in at a whopping 81 pounds. A mature male Wild Turkey can weigh in at more than 20 pounds while the mature hens will reach 8-12 pounds.

Don’t let the size fool you. Wild Turkeys get around quite well. They can run up to 25 miles per hour. Have you ever timed yourself? I generally run an eight minute mile putting me about 8 mph.

And did you know Wild Turkeys could fly? In fact, they are very strong flyers with powerful wing bursts. They can fly up to 55 mph. They also use those excellent wings to roost high-up in trees.

Seeing a turkey in a tree is quite the sight. A bird that big sitting in a tree just doesn’t seem natural; but, it is really cool! They roost in trees at night to stay away from predators. Yes, we are not the only ones that enjoy a turkey dinner. Coyotes do as well.

So what is a Wild Turkey having for Thanksgiving? They eat lots of tree nuts and seeds (especially acorns), fruits and young vegetation. They also eat things like beetles, caterpillars, snails, salamanders and frogs.

As appetizing as a Wild Turkey’s dinner menu may sound, I hope your turkey dinner is full of all your favorite recipes. Happy Thanksgiving!

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