Wild Turkey Facts - Get Familiar with this Thanksgiving Fowl

Wild Turkey Hunting, part of one of the biggest family dinner traditions in the United States, is a bird native to North America. But not everybody knows much more than how to carve and eat the turkey, let alone how or where to hunt it. To help those that aren't aware about the facts, here is a gathering of information that might help anyone get up to speed on wild turkey facts.

Fully-grown wild turkeys have a small head, which is of red color and bears no feathers whatsoever. Long reddish-orange to grayish-blue legs, a dark brown to black colored, feathered body are common to most turkeys. Male birds additionally have a red throat. Most turkeys have caruncles on their heads and fleshy flaps close to the bill that expands when the turkey is excited. This happens due to blood flowing into the flap and expanding.

A turkey's foot has four toes and in male birds, there is usually a spur found on the lower leg of the bird. Fully-grown wild turkeys are often called a tom or long beard. Generally, turkeys have a dark colored, long and fan shaped tail. The color of the overall feather dress is of dark color. As with so many other birds in the wild, turkeys display big differences in their overall shape and color when it comes to sex. The male turkey is generally much bigger than the female turkey and his feathers also display great iridescence in such beautiful colors as copper, red, bronze, purple and green. Female feathers are overall more dull and in the range from brown to gray. Most male turkeys have white coloration on their wings, lower back or tail tips.

Turkeys have somewhere around 5,500 feathers on their body. The tail feathers of a fully-grown turkey have all the same length, while the ones of young turkeys have different lengths. One of the reasons a male turkey is also called long beard are feathers that come out of the chest of the turkey and somewhat resemble a beard. These beards are generally 9 inches long and sometimes even female turkeys have a beard, depending on their subspecies. Female beards are thinner and shorter than the ones of their male companions. Young male turkeys are also called jakes.

On average, a fully-grown male turkey weighs about 8.2 kg, which is the same as 18 lb, while a fully grown female turkey weighs around 3.2 kg or 8 lb. So far, the biggest recorded turkey as per the National Wildlife Turkey Federation weighed in at 38 lb. Even though they are not seen to cover vast spans of land flying, the average wingspan of a turkey is about 4.8 ft. Turkeys can reach in flight 50 miles per hour and even though most domestic turkeys might never really be seen flying, turkeys are fairly good fliers. Generally, turkeys fly close to the ground and fly never for much more than a quarter mile.

A turkey is often also called gobbler, due to its gobbling bird sound. This sound is used to attract and fight for female birds. Female turkeys can gobble too, but they normally leave it to the male counterpart to do so. Besides the gobbling, turkeys also are able to make other sounds and actually have many different versions of their sounds. Turkeys like to eat grains, nuts, seeds and grass. More than 70% of a turkeys diet is made up of grass.

There are several subspecies of turkeys all over the world. Most common in the United States is the Eastern Turkey, followed by the Osceola (Florida) turkey, the Rio Grande turkey, the Merriams turkey and the Goulds turkey. If a hunter manages to shoot in his lifetime one of the first four subspecies in spring, he managed a Grand Slam. If he then adds one of the Goulds kind, he even managed a North American Grand Slam.