|DAZZLE THEM AT THE DINNER TABLE
A long-time centrepiece of American holiday feasts,
the turkey has a colourful and delicious history. Here are some
intriguing facts about our nation's favourite bird, that you may
- Turkeys originated in North and
Central America, and evidence indicates that they have been around
for over 10 million years.
- Until 1863, Thanksgiving Day had
not been celebrated annually since the first feast in 1621. This
changed in 1863 when Sarah Josepha Hale encouraged Abraham Lincoln
to set aside the last Thursday in November "as a day for national
thanksgiving and prayer."
- In Mexico, the turkey was considered
a sacrificial bird.
- Domesticated turkeys (farm raised)
cannot fly. Wild turkeys can fly for short distances at up to 55
miles per hour. Wild turkeys are also fast on the ground, running
at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.
- Only male turkeys (toms) gobble.
Females (hens) make a clicking noise. The gobble is a seasonal call
during the spring and fall. Hens are attracted for mating when a
tom gobbles. Wild toms love to gobble when they hear loud sounds
or settle in for the night.
- The heaviest turkey ever raised
weighed in at 86 pounds -- about the size of a large German Shepherd
-- and was grown in England, according to Dr. Sarah Birkhold, poultry
specialist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.
- Mature turkeys have 3,500 or so
feathers. The Apache Indians considered the turkey timid and wouldn't
eat it or use its feathers on their arrows.
- More than 45 million turkeys are
cooked and 525 million pounds of turkey are eaten during Thanksgiving.
- Ninety percent of American homes
eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Fifty percent eat turkey on Christmas.
- North Carolina produces 61 million
turkeys annually, more than any other state. Minnesota and Arkansas
are number two and three.
- Benjamin Franklin, the great American
statesman, thought the turkey was so American it should have been
chosen as our national symbol rather than the eagle.
- The fleshy growth from the base
of the beak, which is very long on male turkeys and hangs down over
the beak, is called the snood.