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  • Sara Thompson

Turkey Trivia

By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise

An adult, male, wild turkey strutting at Deer Island Open Space Preserve in California.

Turkey will be the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinners for nearly 90% of American families. Nearly 46 million turkeys are eaten in the U.S. on Thanksgiving alone. Even though wild turkeys are found in 38 of 50 states, nearly 230 million turkeys are raised on farms each year. Other than being the center of holiday meals, turkeys are a fun and interesting animal with some fascinating quirks.

When turkeys were originally domesticated and bred, it was for their feathers rather than their meat. Their feathers have distinctive striped patterns that were popular for accessories and décor. An adult turkey has between 5000-6000 feathers, with the males having the large tail feathers used for display. Adult male turkeys are called toms, and adult females are hens. Juveniles can be called chicks or poults. A young male is a jake and a young female are jennies. A group of turkeys has many names including a crop, gang, rafter, or flock.

Turkeys have a reputation of being clumsy and slow. This may be true for farm raised turkeys, who are bred to be extra-large and because of their large size cannot fly. Wild turkeys, however, are quick on both ground and air. They can run up to 18 miles per hour and can fly at speeds up to 50 miles per hour. When in flight, wild turkeys can soar for nearly a mile, alternating between strong wingbeats and gliding. If needed, turkeys can swim for short distances by fanning their tail feathers, tucking in their wings, and kicking with their feet.

Most people grow up learning that turkeys say “gobble-gobble”. It is true that turkeys can make this sound, but it is only the male turkeys that gobble. Both sexes also make several other sounds such as a chirp, clucking, a cackle-like sound when flying, an excited yelp, and even a soft “purring” sound. All these sounds help turkeys communicate amongst themselves and can hear sounds up to 400 yards away, including frequencies human ears cannot detect.

Explorit wants to wish you happy holidays! Whether you Come explore our exhibit Healthy Planet, Healthy You to learn about ways we can all help contribute to the health of our planet. Visit during our Extended Public Hours on Friday, November 26 from 10am-4pm, or Saturday and Sunday 10am-2pm. Make and take crafts available for children before noon on weekends, while supplies last.


Explorit's coming events:

• Want to keep your students engaged during the winter break? Sign up for “The Science of Winter” camp. Explore the fun frosty phenomena of the winter season! Explorit campers will learn about the winter sky, frozen chemicals reactions, and amazing animal adaptations to the cold. Join us for science activities, games, and take-home crafts. December 20-22, 9am-12pm for grades K-2, December 27-29 9am-12pm for grades 3-5. $100 Members/$120 Non-Members. Camps will take place indoors with air purifiers. Masks required and daily temperature screening and healthy survey at drop-off. For more information and registration visit

• Give the gift of science to a family this holiday season! A gift Membership to Explorit not only supports us but grants the recipient free visits to Explorit’s regular public hours, discounts on events, summer camps and workshops, and gives you ASTC benefits to visit other museums throughout the world. Any level of Membership is eligible as a gift for someone. To purchase or for more information visit or call Explorit at 530-756-0191.

• Like many small businesses the closures have had a significant impact on our income and sustainability. Now is a great time to donate and help Explorit continue to educate and inspire the scientists of tomorrow:


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