Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Turkey Trivia

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner,
I though I would share some trivia and observations
I have made raising turkeys.

Oh, and by the way, we are NOT eating our turkeys
for Thanksgiving.
They have gobbled their way into our hearts 
and we are in awe of these majestic birds.

You might remember, a number of weeks back,
we were questioning the sex of turkey #3.
We no longer wonder.
In the past week, this fellow has embraced his manhood,
and spends his day strutting in all his puffed-up splendor.

Male turkeys are slightly larger than females.
However, when they puff up their feathers, 
they look enormous.
In actuality, their feathers are just standing on end.

Our turkeys are an heirloom breed known as Bourbon Reds.
They are supposedly quite tasty, but we may never know for sure.
Commercial turkeys, that most of America eats for Thanksgiving,
are a non-flying breed known as White Hollands.
(not quite as tasty!)

Turkeys have a long flap of skin that hangs from above their beak,
down along side it called the "snood."

The flap of skin that stretches from the underside of their
beak to their neck is called the "wattle."

Those bumpy growths on his head and neck are called
"caruncles."

The curious thing that I have observed lately is how 
dramatically these structures change their color.
I suppose it has something to do with emotion
and excitement.

Within a few moments, their head and neck
 can change from bright scarlet...


and purple....

to shades of fluorescent blue...


to almost white....


I have researched this phenomenon, but can find no
information on what the different colors mean.

Do I need to write a book about turkeys??

Some have a tuft of bristled hair-like feathers
on their chest called a "beard".
Only turkey #1 (Tom) has a beard.

My boys spend their day strutting their puffed-up selves
all around their pen,
trying their hardest to impress the hen.
They don't seem to realize that she is a captive audience.

With all of the courtship and mating happening here,
I am very surprised that our hen has yet to lay any eggs.
I am looking forward to trying a turkey egg.
Perhaps this spring I will try hatching some of these eggs
and adding to our "flock".

Living here in the east, we are privileged to have wild turkeys
living within our woods.
It's so sad to think that in the early 1900's these gentle, giant birds
were almost gone....due to over-hunting, and loss of habitat.

DID YOU KNOW.... Sesame Street's Big Bird's costume is 
covered with thousands of yellow-dyed turkey feathers??


10 comments:

  1. Your turkeys do look majestic all puffed up. Those color changes are amazing, I had no idea turkeys did that. Thanks for all the turkey info, I learned a lot.

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  2. Turkeys are a curious creature, for sure!
    We found that our turkeys changed color as a response to the color we were wearing! Guess they didn't want to be outdone!
    All this talk about turkeys makes me want to try raising some more!
    We'll see come spring.

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  3. Is the color change due to variation in blood flow????
    3Ms

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  4. hello there thanks for your grat post, as usual ((o:

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  5. I believe that Ben Franklin wanted the turkey as our national bird...not the eagle. They are magnificent birds. How neat that their heads and necks turn colors! I'm catching up reading all your wonderful posts. Come over to my blog to enter my first giveaway!

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  6. Thanks for the educations on turkeys! I just love the color of the Bourbon Red, hence the name! I wished I had more property so I could have a couple of them. Oh Big Bird, a turkey after all these years!

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  7. DO YOU KNOW... that Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the Wild Turkey the official bird of the newly-emerging United States? But was voted down and settled for the Eagle instead. An interesting dynamic there, don't you think:

    Christina / SVG

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  8. Great post! We don't know much about turkeys anymore, so it's refreshing to see you raising these gorgeous Bourbon Reds. I've read that most commercial turkeys can't even breed or raise their own chicks. We've bred the instinct clean out of them. So sad.

    On a different note, our family is buying a pastured, heritage turkey from a local farmer for Thanksgiving dinner. We reserved it way back in July. At $6 a pound, this will be a pricey bird, but we're really looking forward to dinner in ways we haven't in the past. Sadly, Safeway had whole turkeys for sale this weekend for 29 cents per pound. It's no wonder small farms struggle.

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  9. Last Thanksgiving, we had local pastured organic turkey...that was the best turkey we ever had. So, thankfully we can order them through our local health food store. I ordered two again this year. Can't wait to taste them!

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  10. Well all in all, I have to say, as wonderful as your pictures are...I still would not want to Kiss a Turkey, LOLOLOL!
    But they are handsome in their own struttin' their stuff ...way.
    There is a saying, and you might want to use it to make up a sign to post at Thanksgiving time...
    " Glad I'm greetin' & Not being Eaten"....
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and the whole herd, flock, & kinfolk.
    >^..^<

    ReplyDelete

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