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10 Amazing Turkey Bird Fun Facts

Ten fun facts about the amazing Turkey that definiutely isn’t just a delicious, seasonal meal!

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Beano Team
Last Updated:  March 13th 2022

There’s so much more to Turkeys than cranberry sauce and stuffing! These majestic birds have been heralded as gods, are capable of advanced communication, and have survived in the wild despite humankind’s best efforts top gobble each and every one up. Let’s hear it for the Turkey!

1. Male turkeys are called gobblers! 

Only male turkeys make the famous gargling, gobbling noise. It’s used to alert female turkey’s to their presence and drive away males with a quieter gobble! That’s why male turkeys are called gobblers and females are called hens. In total, turkeys are known to have over 20 distinct calls, gobbles, and clucks - all with there own unique meaning! We guess that’s what the phrase ”Talking Turkey” really means!

2. Wild turkeys could enter a triathlon!

The fattened-up birds that some people eat at  Christmas can’t fly, but their wild cousins can. Wild turkeys can reach speeds of 50mph over a short distance. Wild Turkeys can also run at 12 miles an hour and can also swim! All the skills needed to enter a triathlon! Go Team Turkey!

3. Turkeys have seven faces!  

Turkeys are the chameleons of the poultry world. But unlike chameleons they don’t change colour to camouflage themselves. Instead the skin on the head of a turkey changes through from red to blue to white, depending on how excited or violent they are feeling. Red means aggression. Blue means excitement. The colour change is so obvious that, in South Korea, they are known as “The Seven Faced Bird!” 

4. Male and Female turkeys do different types of poo!

A male turkey’s poo is always done in the shape of the letter J. There is no real evidence that the J stands for “jobbie” although the Beano is considering funding some scientific research to investigate further. If you think that pooing in the shape of the letter J is impressive, the female Turkey manages to poo in a spiral. Now that’s what we call curling one out! We wondered how Turkey Twizzlers were made!  

5. Turkey snoods are for mating!

The fleshy, gross bit that droops over a male turkey’s beak (known as a snood) is used to attract females (a bit like the gobbling noise we mentioned earlier). For some weird reason females prefer males with longer snoods and Turkey scientists - yes, they are a thing - can tell which male Turkey will win at dating, by measuring the length of their snoods!

6. Turkeys are killed in their MILLIONS!

Over 45,000,000 turkeys are killed each year for Thanksgiving! And that’s just Thanksgiving… It doesn’t even count Christmas! Another 14 million Turkeys are killed in just the UK alone, just for Christmas Dinner (and Boxing Day leftovers too.) That’s a lot of Turkey being gobbled!

7. Turkeys were worshipped!

In ancient Mexican culture, the Turkey was a sacred bird! Mayans referred to the turkey as the ‘Great Xolotl’, or “The jewelled bird.” One Mayan ruler even included the word for turkey in his royal nickname!

8.Turkeys are not from Turkey!

Once upon a time, the Guinea Fowl - an African bird also destined for the dinner table - came to Europe via the country, Turkey. The English originally called this bird “Turkish chicken” or a “Turkey cock”. So when Europeans came to North America, and saw a bird that looked a little like a Guinea Fowl they called it a “Turkey Cock” and the name Turkey stuck!

9. Turkey raffles are a thing!

By far the most popular collective noun for a group of Turkeys is “flock.” Less boringly, a rafter, a gaggle, a posse and a raffle have also been used. In the wild Turkeys live in family groups and can travel in flocks/posses/rafters/raffles of over 50 birds!

10. Wild Turkeys are at risk!

The wild turkey was almost  hunted to extinction. In the early 1900’s so many birds wewre being caught only 30,000 were left in the wild. Thankfully, special measures were bought in and now Wild Turkeys number around seven million. Here’s a sombre thought to end on, though: Earth’s entire Wild Turkey population is less than the amount of Turkeys that are killed each year for Thanksgiving!