According to the National Wild Turkey Federation in Edgefield, S.C., the domestic, farm-raised turkey most Americans eat on Thanksgiving Day is nothing like the wild turkey feasted on by the Pilgrims and earlier Native Americans.
In honor of Thanksgiving Day, here are a few facts about the tasty game bird chosen as the main course for the first feast:
- Wild turkeys, now almost 7 million strong, were almost extinct in the early 1900s.
- Benjamin Franklin said the wild turkey was a more appropriate choice than bald eagle as our national bird.
- Wild turkeys can run up to 25 mph. Usain Bolt, the world's fastest-known human, averaged 23.35 mph during his world-record 100 meters.
- With as many as 6,000 feathers, they can fly as fast as 55 mph. Most domestic turkeys are too heavy to fly.
- Wild turkeys rarely weigh more than 24 pounds, while domestic turkeys regularly grow to more than 40 pounds.
- They have much sharper vision than humans and can view their entire surroundings simply by turning their head.
- Wild turkeys can make at least 28 different vocalizations, with gobbles heard up to a mile away.
- Wild turkeys sleep in trees, often as high as 50 feet off the ground.