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Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

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Match Birds with Their Habitats

Particular birds are tied to particular habitats. An American Bittern calls from a freshwater marsh. Wild Turkeys like open woods, with fields and clearings. The House Wren favors gardens, hedgerows, and brushy woods. This Red Knot feeds on beaches and mudflats. The Mourning Dove likes brushy,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Giblets and Gizzards

On Thanksgiving Day, if you passed the gravy and giblets, you held in your hands the turkey's heart, liver, and gizzard. What is a gizzard? A bird's stomach is divided into two parts. The first part is a lot like our stomach. But the second part is the gizzard. Birds that eat seeds have a gizzard... read more »

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Turkey Calling - Real or Unreal

Preston Pittman won his first turkey-calling contest when he was only 16, and he makes the sounds with his mouth. Sadler McGraw uses the "friction" technique. He pulls a "striker" - almost like a screwdriver - across a crystal surface. It sounds for all the world like a Wild Turkey, and it won... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, vocalization

Turkey in the Straw

Turkey in the Straw was a fiddle tune called Natchez Under the Hill before it was published with words. It became popular during Andrew Jackson's presidency, which would put it on the scene about the early 1830s. We know that Wild Turkeys prefer woodlands to barns with straw. Nevertheless, we... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music

The Day of the Turkey

The Wild Turkey, from which the domestic variety has been bred, is native to North America. Noted as a table delicacy, the four-foot long Wild Turkey was hunted by both Native Americans and the Europeans who populated our country. Wild Turkeys are social and stay in family groups often numbering... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

How the Turkey Got Its Name

Turkeys were domesticated in Mexico long before Europeans set foot there. After early European explorers colonized Mexico, they took some of the tamed turkeys home with them. But when the bird we today call the "turkey" arrived in England in the 1500s, people got them mixed up with another big... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Audubon's Wild Turkey

In the early 1800s, John James Audubon wrote: "The great size and beauty of the Wild Turkey, its value as a delicate and highly prized article of food... render it one of the most interesting of the birds indigenous to the United States of America." Read Audubon's description of how Wild Turkeys,... read more »

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National Symbol - Turkey vs. Eagle

As an old tale goes, after the eagle was chosen for national emblem, Benjamin Franklin questioned the choice. In a letter to his daughter regarding a medal created by the Society of the Cincinnati, he wrote wrily: "The Bald Eagle is too lazy to fish for himself; when the Osprey has taken a fish .... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Shifts in Habitat = Shifts in Species

We asked David Sibley, creator and illustrator of The Sibley Guide to Birds, how changes in the environment are affecting birds such as this Brown Thrasher. He says, “A shift of habitat has caused a shift in the species” he's observed in the Northeastern US. For example, Wild Turkeys, Pileated... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Wishbones and Dinosaurs

The anatomical structure we call the wishbone was long thought unique to birds. But fossil discoveries of recent decades have shown that some dinosaurs, including the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex, and the Velociraptors of ”Jurassic Park,” also had wishbones. And there is now wide consensus among... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  fossil, humor, science
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