What do you think of when you think of Thanksgiving? Family, friends, food, the history of the holiday? I’d guess that two of the first things that come to mind for most of us are the purpose of the holiday—that is, giving thanks— and the center of the traditional Thanksgiving meal—the turkey. So, I give you 10 Facts About Turkeys, along with 10 Things To Be Thankful For.
- From near extinction in the 1930s, the wild turkey population has grown to over 7 million, and they range throughout North America.
I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful for those more than 7 million turkeys, and for the power of life to regenerate and to come back from the brink of extinction.
- Turkeys eat many different foods, including grass, grain, berries, insects, and even small reptiles.
Like turkeys, we humans are omnivores (though some of us choose not to eat meat). And we can give thanks for all the many things we have to eat—including the turkey that may grace our table—and for the ability to share what we have with others.
- Turkeys like to sleep perched on tree branches to be safe from predators like coyotes and foxes.
Let us be thankful for safe places to sleep—and for those who provide shelter and beds for those in need.
- Wild turkeys can run at up to 25 miles per hour and fly for short bursts at up to 55 miles per hour.
I can’t fly—at least on my own power—but I’m grateful for the ability to walk and run and dance and move. These bodies we have are amazing, and mostly we take them for granted. They deserve some gratitude.
- To make babies, turkey hens lay 10 to 12 eggs, one per day, and then incubate the eggs for about 28 days.
New little turkeys in 28 days—how cool is that! Thanks for reproduction in all its forms.
- Wild turkeys see in color and, though they have poor night vision, their daytime vision is three times better than a human’s.
Senses vary not just from species to species, but from one person to another. Some of us don’t have the use of some senses. But we, like all of nature, have a remarkable ability to accommodate—for one sense to strengthen to compensate for the weakness or absence of another. That adaptability is something else to be thankful for.
- The skin on a turkey’s neck, face, and snood (the flap of skin that hangs over the beak) change color with the turkey’s emotions.
Ah, yes, emotions. Sometimes they hurt us, and make us wish we didn’t feel them so deeply. But life wouldn’t be life without them. We can give thanks for the ability to feel and for the depth of emotion that brings us together and shows us how much we share.
- Male adult wild turkeys have 18 feathers in their tail fans. Adult turkeys have about 5,500 feathers total.
Thanks be to nature for the feathers and the consistency of their numbers. And thanks be to the people who counted them! (Five thousand and one, five thousand and two, five thousand and…)
- A group of turkeys is called a rafter.
As someone who likes words, I’m grateful to know that a group of turkeys is a rafter. An exultation of larks, a murder of crows, and a rafter of turkeys…hmmm, doesn’t quite have the same ring, but still…
- Turkeys recognize each other by their unique voices.
Be grateful for your own uniqueness, your voice, your gift. Only you can sing your song, tell your story, live your life. Speak up, so the other turkeys can recognize you!
And one extra fact about turkeys that I just have to share, though I decided it was probably best not to include a gratitude reflection for this one:
- Snood length is associated with male turkey health, and it seems female turkeys prefer males with long snoods.
I guess size does matter. 🙂
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
You can find these and more turkey facts at the following links:
Turkey photos from http://commons.wikimedia.org/
Connect with me:
I am the author of the New Adult/Young Adult urban fantasy A Gift of Wings. (The sequel, A Gift of Shadows, will be released Dec. 10, 2014.)
I have also contributed stories (one fictional and one true) to the following volumes: