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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Turkey Trivia

Oct 31, 2013 12:00AM
  • Wild turkeys were nearly wiped out in North America by 1940. It took the efforts of preservationists to rekindle the numbers of wild turkeys, which are now out-of-control in some local neighborhoods where they’ve become something of a nuisance.
  • Turkeys do more than gobble. They are known to make up to 20 distinct vocalizations, according to animal experts.
  • People are not the only ones getting bigger. Turkeys are getting larger, too. The weight of the average turkey has increased 57 percent, says the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Most birds now average 28 pounds.
  • Domesticated turkeys do not fly but wild turkeys can. They spend their nights in trees, flying to their roosts around sunset.
  • Turkeys are a billion-dollar industry. Annual totals are around $3.6 billion and the companies Jennie-O Turkey Store, Cargill Value Added Meats and Butterball, LLC are industry leaders.
  • At least one turkey won’t make it to Thanksgiving dinner this year, because the President pardons one turkey a year to see another November. All bets are off for next year, though.
  • Only male turkeys display the ruffled feathers, fanlike tail, bare head, and bright beard commonly associated with their kind.
  • There's more than one name for these birds. Adult males are known as toms, young males as jakes, and all females as hens.
  • Many people blame ‘ol Tom Turkey for making them drowsy after the Thanksgiving meal. The truth is that other foods on the Thanksgiving table may have as much or even more of the amino acid L-tryptophan that’s linked to sleepiness. Plus, you need carbohydrates to work in concert with the tryptophan for it to reach the brain and produce the sleepy effects.