Thursday, November 26, 2009
Some interesting turkey facts on this Thanksgiving Day.
These are wild turkeys. They are the biggest game birds in North America. Wild turkeys have dark feathers to help them blend in with their surroundings. They eat seeds, berries, acorns and small insects. At night, they evade predators be sleeping on tree branches.
Wild turkeys populate many areas of the country. Seems wild turkeys were also native to the Los Angeles basin. Don't know if any wild turkeys remain here. But, there are wild turkeys in northern California. The flock above was photographed in the Sierra foothills.
None other than Benjamin Franklin championed the turkey for the nation's Great Seal. Dismissing the bald eagle as a scavenger of bad moral temperament. Franklin preferred the turkey because, "though a little vain and silly" it is a "Bird of Courage." I think Franklin more loathed eagles than exalted turkeys. He also made a case for putting a rattlesnake on the Great Seal. More seriously, he quite poignantly proposed a dramatic scene from the Book of Exodus.
Ever wondered how the turkey got named? The Story of How the Unofficial Bird of the United States Got Named After a Middle Eastern Country is an entertaining piece on the MIT website that explores the question. And yes, our word "turkey" was named after the country Turkey.
The turkey on your table this afternoon is a distant cousin to the birds that fed the Pilgrims or which roam wild in the foothills. The National Turkey Federation website describes modern turkey production. Domesticated birds have been bred to maximize breast and thigh meat, can't fly, and have white feathers which don't leave pigment spots when the bird is plucked. The NTF reports that per capita consumption of turkeys in 2009 is estimated to reach 17 pounds. Seems like a lot to me.
All right. Time to get going.