The official bird of Thanksgiving and Christmas, Turkey is more than just a mouth-watering dish.
Since the latter is just around the corner, why don’t I shed some light on this iconic Christmas bird.
1) They are not dumb
Many people would think that it is a dumb bird (does the term bird brain ring a bell ?) as it is always seen stoning at the sky (even when it is raining).
But it is not stoning into oblivion, unlike me. This is because of an inherited condition called tetanic torticollar spasms.
This causes turkeys to display weird behaviours, such as staring at the sky for 30 seconds or more.
Sounds like a great hobby.
They will extend their neck and head such that the latter lies on its body with its peak pointing upwards.
This condition is known to be similar to mini-seizures experienced in some people.
2) They change colour.
Turkeys can change the colour of the skin on their head (just like how we can dye our hair).
The colour ranges from red to blue to white, depending on whether they are calm or excited.
They are able to do so because the blood vessels under their skin contract when they get flustered.
More collagen bands will be exposed, affecting the way light reflect off their skin.
This is also the reason why the sky is blue while sunsets are yellow or red.
And if you’re wondering, yes, this is also why your blood vessels look blue under your skin, when the blood flowing in your vessels is red.
3) Turkeys can run
Turkeys can run on the ground at a speed of 40km/h.
Usain Bolt’s fastest speed is 44.72 km/h.
You do the maths.
4) They can fly
Turkeys can fly, while they may look like they can’t.
You know…size and everything.
Just try not to be too shocked when I tell you they can fly up to 88.5km/h.
Take a look at this video (0:43)!
5) They have excellent vision
This helps them stay on the lookout for predators while hunting for food.
Multi-tasking 101, indeed.
On the other hand, nobody is perfect. And no turkey is perfect as well.
They can’t see well at night, which makes it pretty fair eh?
6) Why people eat Turkey during Christmas
I’ll have you know that turkeys were not regular guests at Christmas dinner until the 1950s when refrigerators were introduced.
Before that, they were a luxury and people usually ate roast swan, pheasants and peacocks.
Henry VIII was the first English king to enjoy the delicacy, although Edward VII made eating turkey the trend at Christmas.
7) Turkeys were sacred animals.
Archaeologist William Lipe of Washington State University says that “turkeys were rather revered animals” among those who lived in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest up to 2,000 years ago.
“Their feathers were highly valued for blankets and other uses, and [the birds] played an important role in ritual practice.”
8) Turkeys and dinosaurs are related
It is safe to think that birds evolved from a certain group of dinosaurs known as maniraptoran theropods.
They are relatively small meat-eating dinosaurs, as seen in the role of Velociraptor in Jurassic Park.
Chickens and turkeys are the only 2 species that have experienced the least evolvement from their ancestor.
9) Turkeys have a lifespan of more than 70 years
According to World Life Expectancy, male turkeys have a lifespan of 72.6 years while female turkeys have 78.9 years.
Seems like women live longer than men in the world of turkeys as well.
10) Turkeys have stones in their stomach.
Turkeys don’t have teeth. Hence, they eat stones to help them grind their food.
I wonder how they taste…
Now that you’re equipped with 10 extraordinary facts about the bird, try impressing your family on the table!