While Benjamin Franklin never voiced his opinion in public, he did wax philosophical on the upstanding, yet silly, nature of the wild turkey in a letter to his daughter. He felt it a “much more respectable bird” that would be a better representative for the nation than the bald eagle, which he referred to as a “bird of bad moral character.” It may be true that wild turkeys are courageous in a fight and work hard foraging for their food, as opposed to stealing it from a hard working osprey, but they are also rather silly and tend to run, rather than fight a predator. They may not have become the national bird, but they do hold an important place in U.S. history, and are an integral part of national holiday traditions (along with being very fun to watch).
Read on to find out a bit more about the wild turkey as well as to download printable sheets of useful photos and information about the turkey. Each Wednesday, check the bottom of the “What’s That?” post to find a PDF containing a fact sheet about the day’s featured item, as well as photographs and other resources ideal for using in a nature journal, research binder, or lap book.
Some interesting things to know about the wild turkey:
- Wild turkeys are native to North America.
- Historians believe the name “turkey” comes from the fact that the birds traveled through, and were then associated with, the country Turkey when being imported to Britain.
- Males (toms) and females (hens) gather together in flocks that can grow up to 300 birds in the winter.
- They are typically found in meadows and fields near hardwood or mixed hardwood-conifer forests.
- Turkeys make a large variety of sounds, which can be heard on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.
- Females build the nest, and care for the eggs and young.
- They nest on the ground in leaf litter at the base of trees, or in dirt areas covered with vegetation.
- Hens lay an egg a day for a clutch that can range from 4 – 14, and sometimes up to 17 eggs. Eggs are incubated for approximately 28 days and the young birds leave the nest within a day of hatching.
- Wild turkeys can fly for short distances. They fly up into trees at night to sleep.
- Predators include: coyote, fox, bobcat, cougars, and even great horned owls and eagles. The eggs and young are preyed upon by various rodents, skunks, raccoons, and raptors.
Click here to download the wild turkeys nature journal resource pages to use with your own family.