| Share
 

Turkey Facts

Find fast facts about wild and domesticated turkeys in the United States.

 
wild turkey

Related Links

How the Turkey Got Its Name

There are a number of explanations for the origin of the name of Thanksgiving's favorite dinner guest. Some believe Christopher Columbus thought that the land he discovered was connected to India, and believed the bird he discovered (the turkey) was a type of peacock. He therefore called it 'tuka,' which is 'peacock' in Tamil, an Indian language.

Though the turkey is actually a type of pheasant, one can't blame the explorer for trying.

The Native American name for turkey is 'firkee'; some say this is how turkeys got their name. Simple facts, however, sometimes produce the best answers—when a turkey is scared, it makes a "turk, turk, turk" noise.

Turkey Facts

  • At one time, the turkey and the bald eagle were each considered as the national symbol of America. Benjamin Franklin was one of those who argued passionately on behalf of the turkey. Franklin felt the turkey, although "vain and silly", was a better choice than the bald eagle, whom he felt was "a coward".
  • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the U.S. at Thanksgiving—that's one sixth of all turkeys sold in the U.S. each year. American per capita consumption of turkeys has soared from 8.3 pounds in 1975 to 18.5 pounds in 1997. Ten years later, the number dropped in 2007 to 13.8 pounds.
  • In 2011, more than 248 million turkeys were expected to be raised with an average liveweight per bird of 28 pounds with nearly 6 billion pounds of turkey processed. By contrast, in 1970, only 105 million birds were raised with an average liveweight of 17 pounds and 1.5 billion pounds processed. The turkeys produced in 2010 together weighed 7.11 billion pounds and were valued at $4.37 billion.
  • In 2002, retail sales of turkey was approximately $3.6 billion. In 2010, sales reached $4.37 billion.
  • Age is a determining factor in taste. Old, large males are preferable to young toms (males) as tom meat is stringy. The opposite is true for females: old hens are tougher birds.
  • A turkey under sixteen weeks of age is called a fryer, while a young roaster is five to seven months old.
  • Turkeys are the only breed of poultry native to the Western Hemisphere.
  • Turkeys have great hearing, but no external ears. They can also see in color, and have excellent visual acuity and a wide field of vision (about 270 degrees), which makes sneaking up on them difficult. However, turkeys have a poor sense of smell (what's cooking?), but an excellent sense of taste.
  • Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys, however, can fly for short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. They can also reach speeds of 25 miles per hour on the ground.
  • Turkeys sometimes spend the night in trees.
  • Turkeys can have heart attacks: turkeys in fields near the Air Force test areas over which the sound barrier was broken were known to drop dead from the shock of passing jets
  • The ballroom dance known as the Turkey Trot was named for the short, jerky steps a turkey makes.

For more turkey facts see Fowl FAQs.




Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Did you know?
The worst fire in American history took place in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, in 1871.

24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring