After the bald eagle became the official symbol in America in 1782, Benjamin Franklin disagreed. In a letter to his daughter, Franklin wrote that he believed the turkey would have been a better choice because of its bravery. Turkey feathers are generally dark with brilliant metallic reflections of bronze and green, but the head and neck are bare. A turkey can fly 32-42 miles per hour. This bird will forage on the ground. The gobbling sound that the turkey is famous for is part of an elaborate courtship display which also includes spreading of the tail fan and strutting.
Distribution: Savanna, grassland, shrubland and forest from southern Canada through Mexico; Introduced in Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia
Diet in the Wild: Nuts, seeds, fruit and insects
Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Grain
Weight: Between 5.5lbs and 18.8lbs (between 2.5 kg and 8.5 kg)
IUCN Red List Status: Least concern, population increasing
Wild turkeys are not the same as the domestic turkeys that people buy for thanksgiving. The two are actually very genetically dissimilar because domestic turkeys are descendants from a subspecies of turkey found in Mexico which were taken to Europe in the 16th century and selectively bred.
Only male turkeys have a fanlike tail, ruffled feathers and a beard (dark, hair-like strands on the breast of the turkey).