Turkeys get a lot of spotlight in November, thanks to the longstanding tradition of turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. But there is a lot more to turkeys than a tasty holiday meal. So whether you’re team turkey or ham for Thanksgiving, we think you’ll find these turkey facts interesting, and maybe even surprising!
Interesting Turkey Facts
- In 2020, there was an average of 450.8 million turkeys in the world.
- In the 1800s, turkeys were nearly extinct in America. The population had dwindled from 10 million to 200,000.
- On Thanksgiving, 46 million turkeys are eaten. Are you curious about other holidays? On Christmas, 22 million are eaten; on Easter, 19 million are eaten!
- A group of turkeys is called a rafter or a flock.
- Female turkeys don’t gobble, they purr!
- Wild turkeys eat nuts, fruit, insects, worms, grains, and even small reptiles.
- An adult turkey has anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 feathers.
- Turkeys have feather beards that can grow three to five inches every year.
- There are only two species of turkeys in the world: Meleagris gallopavo and Meleagris ocellata. The first is the wild turkey, and the latter is the ancestor of modern day domestic turkeys.
- Female turkeys are called hens. Male turkeys are called gobblers or toms.
- Turkeys can swim, and they actually really enjoy the water.
- You can find wild turkeys in 38 of the U.S. states. (You can find them in the grocery store in all 50 states.)
- Wild turkeys can fly for over a mile.
- And even the ones that can’t fly can run up to 25 miles an hour.
- Turkeys can see three times better than 20/20, and eight times farther.
- Benjamin Franklin said that turkeys were a much more respectable bird than bald eagles.
- Wild turkeys live from three to five years, while domestic turkeys can live up to ten years. In 1992, a 13-year-old turkey was recorded in New Jersey.
Which turkey fact surprised you the most? Remember one or two of your favorite facts to share at Thanksgiving this year!
Turkey Books for Kids
If your little one loves these turkey facts, he or she will probably love these turkey books!
- How to Catch a Turkey, by Adam Wallace
- There Was a Turkey on the Farm, by Valeri Gorbachev
- This Little Turkey, by Ally Franis
- There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Turkey! by Lucille Colandro
- Five Silly Turkeys, by Salina Yoon