How much do you know about the traditional Thanksgiving bird? Here are some facts: Wild turkeys can run up to 25 mph. Usain Bolt, the world's fastest-known human, averaged 23.35 mph during his world-record setting 100 meters. Wild turkeys, which can have as many as 6,000 feathers, can fly as fast as 55 mph. Most domestic turkeys are too heavy to fly. Wild turkeys have much sharper vision than humans and can view their entire surroundings by turning their head. The birds don't see well in the dark. They roost in trees at night. Wild turkeys rarely weigh more than 24 pounds while domestic turkeys regularly grow to more than 40 pounds. Wild turkeys in America, now almost 7 million strong, were nearly extinct in the early 1900s, when their numbers dwindled to perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 birds. Conservation efforts and hunting limits brought them back. Wild turkeys were argued by Benjamin Franklin to be a more appropriate choice than bald eagles as our national bird. Wild turkeys -- reputation to the contrary in urban areas -- are cagey. Just ask hunters who consider them a challenge to hunt. Wild turkeys like to scratch and scrape up dry soil to clean their feathers of tiny parasites. This behavior is trouble for gardens. Wild turkeys can make at least 28 vocalizations, with gobbles heard up to one mile away. Hunters' art of calling wild turkeys was taught by Native Americans to early settlers from Europe. Some of the calling tools to mimic turkey sounds are made of turkey bones. Wild turkeys were not found in California when European settlers arrived, although skeletons of ancient wild turkeys were found in the La Brea Tar Pits. The California Department of Fish of Game helped transplant wild turkeys to the state in the 1950s.
Sources: National Wild Turkey Federation, California Department of Fish and Game