GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
By 1880 Wild Turkeys had vanished from Minnesota…and most of the country. They would not return in any numbers to Minnesota for another 100 years…Not until the 1980s when, due to restocking efforts, the again gained a foothold in the state. I vividly remember seeing my first Wild Turkey in Minnesota…We had to travel 5 hours south of Duluth to the Southeastern corner of the state, Houston County, tucked into the borders of Wisconsin and Iowa in the bluff country along the Mississippi River. It took days of searching winding dirt roads before we finally spotted one in a meadow. The caravan of cars almost crashed into each other as the lead car slammed on its brakes…The Turkey ran and we only got a brief glimpse. Fast forward to today and I have broods of 10 or 11 feeding at my feeder!
a. POULT is a turkey chick
b. JAKE is a young male
c. JENNY is a young female
d. and of course TOM is an adult male (adult female is a HEN)
The average domestic Turkey weighs 12 pounds but can top 40 pounds, while a Tom in the wild averages 20 pounds.
Minnesota is the leading producer of domestic turkeys in the nation.
Although most commonly used as fertilizer, turkey litter (droppings mixed with bedding material, usually wood chips) is being used as a fuel source in electric power plants. One such plant in western Minnesota provides 55 megawatts of power using 500,000 tons of litter per year. [Source: Wikipedia England]
Wild turkeys can run up to 25 mph. Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest-known human, averaged 23.35 mph during his world-record, 100 meter sprint.
BEN KNOWS BEST
Benjamin Franklin privately felt that the Wild Turkey would make a much better National Symbol than the Bald Eagle.
Writing from France on January 26, 1784 to his daughter Sally (Mrs. Sarah Bache) in Philadelphia, Ben writes,
“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.
“With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country . . .
“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”