Animals

Turkey: The Odd Bird Out

True or false?: Turkeys can't fly. Although these bulbous, feathered birds may appear a bit too awkward to take flight, turkeys can actually reach air speeds up to 55 mph when traveling short distances. And that's not the only impressive thing about this seemingly normal species. Turkeys can walk straight up a tree, reveal their gender through dietary differences in their feces, and even eat rocks to help them digest food in the wild. In fact, in North America there are six subspecies of wild turkey—can you guess which one the pilgrims ate? (It was the M. gallopavo silvestris). Today, these wild turkeys roam the same eastern areas of the U.S. and Canada as their ancestors.

When it comes to the common perception of turkeys, most of us could not be more mistaken. Learn more about these surprisingly incredible creatures here.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. When he returned to Spain after "discovering" the New Wold, Christopher Columbus brought along wild turkeys. 00:33

  2. "Turkey" is a shortened version of turkey fowl, a name that the birds received because they were raised by Turkish farmers. 01:03

  3. In 1614, English settlers had turkeys imported to Jamestown from England. 01:23

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Written by Curiosity Staff November 24, 2014