About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Domestic turkey vs. Wild turkey

Although wild and domestic turkeys are genetically the same species, that’s about where the similarity ends.
President Barack Obama Officially Pardons The Thanksgiving Turkey
The wild turkey in a sprint can outrun a galloping horse and fly distances of more than a mile, sometimes at speeds of 55 miles per hour. The domestic turkey lost its ability to fly through selective breeding that created heavier, broad-breasted birds, a feature much desired by chefs and commercial turkey producers. The shorter legs of the domestic turkey also mean it can’t run as well as its wild cousin.

In contrast to the heavier domestic bird, the wild turkey is slim, tall and long-legged. Factor in its keen eyesight and native cunning, and the wild turkey makes a difficult target for human and animal hunters alike.

Reintroduction of the wild turkey in Michigan is one of the state’s most noteworthy conservation success stories. Due to habitat loss and over-hunting, turkeys were once on the way to extinction until conservation organizations were established to preserve and expand their populations.

The separation of the wild and domestic turkey began hundreds of years ago. Turkeys were being raised in Mexico and Central America for more than 500 years before the Spanish traders arrived. They took Mexican wild turkeys, domesticated by the Aztecs, home to Europe in about 1519. The turkey then spread rapidly through Europe and was introduced in England between 1524 and 1541, where they were highly sought after for gourmet dinners.

After the domestic turkey spread across Europe in the 1500s, the colonists who settled the New World brought these tasty birds with them across the Atlantic to the land of their origin. Imagine the pilgrims’ surprise to find the turkey already one of the most plentiful foods of the American Indians.

Domestic stock from Europe was eventually crossbred with the wild turkeys of North America, leading to the six standard domestic varieties in the United States: Bronze, Black, Narranganset, Bourbon Red, Slate and White Holland.

Related Articles:
Fun Facts on Wild Turkeys http://bit.ly/rI3Ki7
Why is a Turkey Is Called a Turkey? http://bit.ly/uKNZe5
Wild Turkeys came close to extinction in the 1930s: http://bit.ly/rgjosF
What do Turkeys Eat? http://bit.ly/uUiDsN