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.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The traveling turkey

Although wild and domestic turkeys are genetically the same species, that’s about where the similarity ends. The wild turkey in a sprint can outrun a galloping horse and fly distances of more than a mile, at up to speeds of 55 miles per hour. The domestic turkey lost its ability to fly and run far due to selective breeding that created a larger breast and shorter legs than their wild cousins.

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.

After the domestic turkey spread across Europe in the 1500s, the colonists who settled the New World brought these domesticated birds with them across the Atlantic back to the land of their origin.

However by the 1900's, due to habitat loss and over-hunting, Wild Turkeys actually disappeared from Michigan’s landscape. Because turkeys do not migrate on their own, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reintroduced them in the 1950s from Pennsylvania. Gradually the Wild Turkey population in Michigan grew and is now is home to over 200,000 birds.

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

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