Party Pointers: Turkey Trivia for Conversation Starters

Turkey Trivia for Conversation Starters

  • When Europeans first saw the winged bird, meleagris gallopavo, native to North America, they saw that it looked like the guinea fowl, which at the time was called the turkey-cock or turkey-hen and so gave it the same name. The guinea fowl resembles the American turkey but is native to eastern Africa. Portuguese traders brought the guinea fowl to Europe through Turkish lands, so the English thought of the birth as a “Turkish chicken.”
  •  Turkey fossils have been discovered throughout the southern United States and Mexico, some dating back more than five million years ago.
  • Wild turkeys can fly for short distances at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour and can run 20 miles per hour. Domestic turkeys can’t flap their wings fast enough to fly.
  • Only male turkeys or toms can gobble, and they do it mostly in the spring and fall. It is a mating call and attracts hens.
  • The loose red skin attached to the underside of a turkey’s beak is called a wattle. The fleshy flap of skin that hands over the gobbler’s beak is called a snood.
  •  Baby turkeys, called poults, eat berries, seeds and insects, while adults have a more varied diet that can include acorns and even small reptiles.
  • A turkey’s sex can be determined by its droppings.  Males’ droppings  are shaped by the letter J, and females’ are spiral-shaped, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • According to Guinness World Records, the heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds–about the size of a large dog.
  • Americans consume about 176 pounds of turkey per person every year and 46 million turkeys each Thanksgiving.
  •  Starting in 1947, American farmers and manufacturers began to send birds to the White House as a means of promoting the poultry industry. Many presidents have sent the presentation turkeys to farms, but it was President George H. W. Bush who in 1989 began the tradition of giving the holiday turkey a presidential pardon. Presidents since then have continued these pardons.

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