As Thanksgiving nears, it is time to pay homage to the iconic bird. Not just tasty and delicious, turkeys are multifaceted critters with fascinating histories. Enjoy these ten facts about turkeys.
1. Shock of all shocks – Benjamin Franklin did not actually recommend the wild turkey to be the symbol of America. His official suggestion in 1776 was an image of Moses and Pharoah. He did, however, mention the turkey in a letter to his daughter, after the bald eagle was chosen to be the symbol of America. Franklin disapproved of the bald eagle due to its nature as a scavenger. He found the turkey to be a "much more respectable Bird".
2. Gobble, gobble, gobble. A wild turkey's gobble can be heard a mile away. Why do turkeys gobble, and which turkeys gobble? Male turkeys gobble to show up other males and to attract the attention of female turkeys, known as "hens".
3. Turkey chicks need their rest! According to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, turkey chicks need "a minimum of two consecutive hours of undisturbed time four times a day followed by eight to ten hours of undisturbed nighttime rest." That's 8 hours a day of rest, followed by an 8 or 10 hour night's sleep.
4. Turkeys need to be trained to eat. According to the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, turkeys grow the most when they are trained to eat several small meals a day. If they are not trained to eat only small meals, they will gorge themselves. Training the turkeys to only eat small meals is simple. All it takes is shaking some feed into their feed trough, or gently rousing the cute little poults. The poults will learn that activity means food.
5. Young turkeys are called "Poults". According to Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, the word "poult" comes from the French word "poulet", and is the diminutive form of the word "poule", or hen.