Turkey Facts: What Is Talking Turkey?

Turkey Talk

These Tom Turkeys Are Strutting For Attention
These Tom Turkeys Are Strutting For Attention

Turkey Calling

I'm not here to ruffle any feathers, but...

Turkeys deserve far more appreciation than they get.

Contrary to popular belief, turkeys are not bird-brained.

They have a social pecking order and abide by the turkey code of honor with strict adherence.

Turkeys will also peck at anything unusual. Pecking is at its peak in the wild because it stirs up hidden ground bugs... which turkeys eat.

Unfortunately, because of the pecking trait, an injured turkey's "unusual looking" wounds will never be allowed to heal. These doomed wounded often end up being pecked to death by their flock, hence the saying... Hen Pecked.

Of course, female turkeys, called Hens loaned their name to take the blame.

The majestic male turkeys called, Toms are what we most associate with Thanksgiving Day for two reasons:

  1. Toms in a rut will fan out thick colorful plumage and put on a show, and while the feathers are short, the performance is as remarkable as any peacock display.

  2. Older Toms have great taste and dress better for dinner.

As for turkey talk, the Toms are responsible for all that gobble since Hens only chatter.

A Tom's gobble can be heard over a great distance.

Gobbling is:

  • an alarm

  • an impressive gesture

...and during great excitement gobbling can be easily provoked by noise like hand clapping.

Now... in turkeys, MPB (male pattern baldness) also effects the Hens, but luck be beautiful, Toms have the glory of the waddle below the chin, and that wormlike projection drooping over the beak known as a snood.

Turkey Taming

Turkeys can Be lulled to sleep by rubbing the back of thier necks
Turkeys can Be lulled to sleep by rubbing the back of thier necks

People are fascinated by these features because the waddle feels like silk fabric dancing in a breeze, and when a Tom is cool and relaxed the snood disappears and shrivels up to become a unihorn.

Close up, a Tom resembles a 120 year old man, with a red wrinkly head, hair in the ears, and low hanging brows that nearly cover the eyes, but...there's a reason for all this wrinkle...

It takes a lot of energy for Toms to strut their stuff, and burning calories creates heat, so the blush is the turkey equivalent to a red faced jogger. The blood goes to the face to cool in the breeze.

When turkeys are hot... their heads are red, when turkeys are cool, they're blue but... they're not sad.

I've seen turkeys angry, shunned, and shy, but never sad.

An angry turkey will chase you, but they rarely have the nerve to attack... hence the name Jive Turkey (70's slang for a fast talking yet incompetent slacker)

Still...Jive Turkeys can certainly deliver a fantastic line of bluff for the ladies with all their poof and fast talk, but...here's the heads up...

The domestic-bred Toms we eat for Thanksgiving were bred to have such large breasts that they can't deliver the goods naturally... if you know what I mean;)

These poor barnyard birds have resorted to just Talkin' Turkey...( A 70s pastime for swingers who were wore brag than bag )

Where To Find Turkeys

Turkeys hang out on the side of the road, mainly highways, so keep your eyes peeled for roadside flocks.
Turkeys hang out on the side of the road, mainly highways, so keep your eyes peeled for roadside flocks.

Turkey Dinner

The Hens of course have learned to ignore the Tom Turkey Trot which did catch on as a popular ragtime dance of the early 1900s, but ....

I bet the largest Tom ever bred never trotted because he weighed in at 86 lbs and I'm sure his stilty legs couldn't hold the weight.

The most common rumor that belittles the turkey's intellegence is that they look up at the sky when it rains and drown because water runs into their nose.

Not true...

However, young turkeys called poults, will huddle together in cold, wet weather to stay warm because feathers keep you dry but...down gets soaking wet. So...In in effort to keep out of each others faces the poults keep their heads up to breathe.

As for drowning there have not been any cases I've encountered, but wet poults will certainly die from exposure:(

In the wild, adults are likely to be scared to death.

Reports of turkeys dropping dead from heart attacks rise when the sound barrier is broken during Air Force flight tests, proving turkeys might be helpful as future early-warning systems for Alien invasions.

For now... let it be known that turkeys have contributed to society in the past.

Aside from Ben Franklin's attempt to make the turkey the national symbol, a little known turkey fact is: Sesame Street's Big Bird's costume was made out of 4000 white turkey feathers dyed yellow...so it's the turkey that actually made the bird so loveable.

Turkeys were also the first domesticated animal in the Americas. Native American cliff-dwellers at Hovenweep National Monument kept turkeys as pets for children, and there is no archeological evidence they raised turkeys for food.

But by far... the strangest thing about a turkey is the beard. A beard is a long thick tuft that hangs down the chest, and sometimes to the ground. It feels like a cheep paintbrush, and ruins the smooth, soft feathers turkeys sport on the rest of their bodies.

Toms, and occasionally Hens have beards. Its thought to be a temperature regulator, or it may have something to do with hormones... either way...

If you ever get a chance to get up close and personal with a turkey...take the opportunity...

Off the plate they're pretty cool characters.

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Comments 3 comments

moonlake profile image

moonlake 8 years ago from America

Enjoyed your Turkey Hub...We have some wild turkeys that come into our yard I have a picture of them on my Hub. I want to get a closer picture but never seem to be able to catch them at the right time.

makenzi 6 years ago

this is really kool im looking up turkey facts 4 school and this is helping me a lot!!!

deborah minns 5 years ago

don't kill them, we have enough to eat, why take these and murder them, GO VEGAN

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