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There is lots of turkey talk going on this time of year. Everywhere you turn, there are Thanksgiving book recommendations and conversations about the turkey that may be on your table for Thanksgiving. I love reading those books and enjoying the season, but I thought it might be fun to study the actual animal and not just the meal.
This study will cover the parts of a turkey, fun turkey facts, and the differences between wild and farm/domestic turkeys. We will also share nature study ideas, books, recipes, and more.
My children have been raising turkeys for the last five years to show at our state fair. They also participate in avian bowl and poultry judging at the state level. Through this process, they have learned quite a bit about turkeys.
In the video below, they will share the parts of a turkey and a little information about raising and caring for turkeys.
Turkey Fun Facts
- Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird.
- Only male turkeys gobble.
- Fully grown turkeys have between 5,000-6,000 feathers.
- Wild turkeys like to roost in trees.
- Domestic turkeys have doubled in average size in the last forty years.
Wild or Farm/Domestic Turkey
The turkeys sold in grocery stores across America are almost exclusively farm-raised broad-breasted white turkeys. Those turkeys are selectively bred to produce a sizeable full-grown turkey in a relatively short time. Some markets and local stores carry locally raised heritage breeds; those breeds often do not get quite as big or grow as fast as the broad-breasted white turkeys.
However, they are often beautiful birds that come in various colors. Those heritage breeds are sometimes better for people looking to keep turkeys long-term or begin a breeding program.
Wild turkeys, as the term implies, are those found in the wild. They are typically smaller than domestic turkeys and have darker feathers. If you live in an area with a wild turkey population, they are often spotted walking through fields and along the edge of the highway.
Can They Fly?
Wild turkeys can fly and often use flight to escape from predators. Most farmed/domesticated turkeys cannot fly as there are too heavy for their wings to support them.
There are several excellent options for nature study related to turkeys. If you are in an area with wild turkeys, have your child observe a wild turkey and journal about them. If you cannot see a wild turkey, you could visit a farm or petting zoo with turkeys and watch a domesticated turkey.
If you can get a turkey feather, it would be a great addition to the nature journal. They could study the feather and maybe even research the different types of feathers. (Yes, turkeys have different types of feathers.)
Students can create a Venn diagram comparing wild and farmed turkeys or turkeys and chickens.
If you want to learn more and go even deeper in your turkey nature study, check out this great resource from Homeschool Nature Study.
Books about Turkeys
- Facts About the Turkey (free with KU)
- Turkeys: Nature and Science (free with KU)
- Unbelievable Pictures and Facts about Turkeys (free with KU)
Whether you choose to cook some actual turkey (turkey breasts work great if you don’t want to do a whole turkey) or you want a crafty snack that looks like a turkey, these recipes can make a tasty end to your turkey study.
- Crock Pot Turkey Breast
- Apple Turkey
- Turkey Cheese Ball
- Turkey Vegetable Platter
- Cinnamon Roll Turkey
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