Discover Nature: The Thanksgiving Turkey

Nov 22, 2020

Discover Nature this week with yourThanksgiving turkey.

A bird – most likely a turkey -- will land on your dining table this week signaling America’s thankfulness. But did you know that your entrée’s ancestors were once so common in America that when U.S. officials were deciding on a national mascot there was deliberation between the bald eagle and the turkey? It’s true!

Turkeys are large, powerful, and can stand up to three feet tall when alert. They’re also the largest of North American game birds. They’re easily identified by their bare red and blue necks, long legs and broad wings. And their tails make them swift runners and quick short-distance flyers. Their feathers are large -- mostly brown -- and banded with black. You might even notice their body feathers reflecting shades of bronze, green, gold, and blue; it’s all part of Mother Nature’s beautiful plan to help themblend into their wooded environment.

The wild turkey almost disappeared from our continent due to excessive hunting and loss of forest habitat. But thanks to conservation efforts, all 114 Missouri counties now have turkey populations sustainable to hunt – and that comes in handy this time of year!

So, whether you place a wild or domestic turkey straight from the supermarket on your Thanksgiving table, smile, because you'll be sharing a piece of our American heritage and a conservation victory.

More information about turkeys in Missouri can be found online at