4 Interesting Facts About Turkeys

Turkeys take center stage at Thanksgiving day feasts, where the conversation is usually about how the bird was prepared for the meal. If you want to teach you children more about what they are eating, here are some pretty interesting tidbits about what life is like for turkeys who avoid the oven. Also, be sure to grab some fun children's books about these plucky birds.


turkey farm

Fun Turkey Facts for Kids

There are so many interesting things to learn about how turkeys socialize, defend themselves against predators, and live carefree on farms or in the wild, completely unaware of their fate. These birds exhibit some pretty odd behavior that separate them from almost every other species. Next time you gather around the table to carve a bird for a delicious family gathering, everyone will enjoy hearing all about what life was like for the feathered friend before landing on the serving dish. 




Wild turkeys spend the day on land, but fly up into the trees to sleep.

This behavior, called roosting, is the only way they can stay safe from predators at night. Coyotes and foxes come out to hunt after the sun sets. Since turkeys cannot see well in darkness, they often cannot identify threats until it is too late. They typically find trees with branches beneath the canopy from which they can hop up to safety. Turkeys are not fond of deeply wooded areas. Rather, you might be lucky enough to spot them as high as 30 feet up in Oak, Pine, Sycamore, and Cottonwood trees located in more open areas.

pair of turkeys

Turkeys' heads change colors based on their emotional state.

They can turn red, blue or white depending on how calm or excited they feel. These color changes are an important part of how turkeys communicate with each other. When a turkey is feeling angry or threatened in some manner, its head will turn a deep, dark red. If the situation abates and the bird calms down, the head will turn a lighter shade of blue. During breeding season, it is common for male turkeys to have red heads, indicating an intense period of arousal and excitement. Bundles of collagen mixed with a high density of blood vessels attribute to the change colors.


Turkeys have remarkable daytime vision.

They can see three times better than human being with 20/20 vision. Also, these incredible birds can see distances eight times farther with much better color vision, and their sight spans 270 degrees. Experts believe turkey vision has evolved over millions of years in order to protect the species from predators and facilitate mating. Interestingly, they do not have 3D vision, which is why you often see turkeys bobbing their heads. This behavior is a way of collecting visual information about their surroundings. Also, while their daytime visual acuity is excellent, nighttime vision is extremely poor.


turkey farm

Approximately 50 million turkeys are consumed each year on Thanksgiving.

Although turkeys are most closely associated with Thanksgiving Day feasts, these birds are part of meals throughout the year. In fact, almost 300 million turkeys are slaughtered worldwide for consumption purposes. But to put matters in perspective, Americans spend an estimated $1.3 billion on turkeys every Thanksgiving. California consumes more turkeys than any other state, and Minnesota raises more of these birds than anywhere else in the country.

turkeys on a fence

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