Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you! Turkeys are one of my favorite birds (right up there with Cardinals and Yellow Finches) so I thought I'd share some turkey knowledge with you. My sister, who will be visiting today for Lunch, has the most beautiful turkey I've ever seen. I miss turkeys, they're so massive, they're like dinosaur birds!

Baby turkeys are called poults. When you order chicks from a mail-order company, they are all jumbled together and if you ordered turkeys and chickens, there is a secret to telling them apart. Turkey poults will have a tiny tuft or ridge of feathers on the their head while chicks heads are smooth. You can see the little tuft in this picture, right behind the beak.

It is an old wives' tale that turkeys will drown if left in the rain. They are not the smartest or most athletic bird but they know won't drown in a downpour if they've got somewhere dry to go. Or they stay and keep their heads lowered, they certainly don't look up to see the rain and then drown as the tale goes.

Most domestic turkeys are like penguins, unable to fly. This is because (for the turkey, not the penguin) they have been bred to be so large they can't sustain a flight of any substantial distance. That being said, most can flap frantically and heft their bulk up onto a bard rafter or into a tree if they see the need. Poor penguins can't manage that but then, they can swim so they've got that going for them.

I agree with Ben Franklin (though it is debatable whether he actually suggested it in earnest) that the turkey would have made a much better National symbol. Turkeys are brave fighters, vegetarians, and just as majestic (if not more) as the eagle with its swelled breast and striking facial features. Franklin remarked that the Eagle is a scavenger, a pirate and flees at the sign of trouble. Eagles can be found throughout the globe but turkeys are uniquely North American. Enjoy your regional specialty today whether you eat it or merely enjoy its company!

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