10 Filling Facts About Turkeys

iStock
iStock

Don’t be fooled by their reputation for being thoughtless. These roly-poly birds have a few tricks up their wings.

1. THE BIRDS WERE NAMED AFTER THE COUNTRY.

The turkey is an American bird, so why does it share its name with a country on the other side of the world? Laziness, mostly. Turkish traders had been importing African guinea fowl to Europe for some time when North American explorers started shipping M. gallopavo back to the Old World. The American birds looked kind of like the African “turkey-cocks,” and so Europeans called them “turkeys.” Eventually, the word “turkey” came to describe M. gallopavo exclusively.

2. THEY NEARLY WENT EXTINCT.

By the early 20th century, the combination of overzealous hunting and habitat destruction had dwindled the turkey populations down to 30,000. With the help of conservationists, the turkey made a comeback. The birds are now so numerous that they’ve become a nuisance in some parts of the country.

3. THEY’VE GOT TWO STOMACHS.

Like all birds, turkeys don’t have teeth, so they’ve got to enlist some extra help to break down their food. Each swallowed mouthful goes first into a chamber called a proventriculus, which uses stomach acid to start softening the food. From there, food travels to the gizzard, where specialized muscles smash it into smaller pieces.

4. FEMALE TURKEYS DON’T GOBBLE.

Turkeys of both sexes purr, whistle, cackle, and yelp, but only the males gobble. A gobble is the male turkey’s version of a lion’s roar, announcing his presence to females and warning his rivals to stay away. To maximize the range of their calls, male turkeys often gobble from the treetops.

5. THEY SLEEP IN TREES.

Due to their deliciousness, turkeys have a lot of natural predators. As the sun goes down, the turkeys go up—into the trees. They start by flying onto a low branch, then clumsily hop their way upward, branch by branch, until they reach a safe height.

6. BOTH MALE AND FEMALE TURKEYS HAVE WATTLES.

The wattle is the red dangly bit under the turkey’s chin. The red thing on top of the beak is called a snood. Both sexes have those, too, but they’re more functional in male turkeys. Studies have shown that female turkeys prefer mates with longer snoods, which may indicate health and good genes.

7. THEY HAVE REALLY GOOD VISION.

Turkey eyes are really, really sharp. On top of that, they’ve got terrific peripheral vision. We humans can only see about 180 degrees, but given the placement of their eyes on the sides of their heads, turkeys can see 270 degrees. They’ve also got way better color vision than we do and can see ultraviolet light.

8. THEY’RE FAST ON THE GROUND, TOO.

You wouldn’t guess it by looking at them, but turkeys can really book it when they need to. We already know they’re fast in the air; on land, a running turkey can reach a speed of up to 25 mph—as fast as a charging elephant.

9. THEY’RE SMART … BUT NOT THAT SMART.

Turkeys can recognize each other by sound, and they can visualize a map of their territory. They can also plan ahead and recognize patterns. In other ways, they’re very, very simple animals. Male turkeys will attack anything that looks remotely like a threat, including their own reflections in windows and car doors.

10. IN THE EVENT OF A TURKEY ATTACK, CALL THE POLICE.

They might look silly, but a belligerent turkey is no joke. Male turkeys work very hard to impress other turkeys, and what could be more impressive than attacking a bigger animal? Turkey behavior experts advise those who find themselves in close quarters with the big birds to call the police if things get mean. Until the authorities arrive, they say, your best bet is to make yourself as big and imposing as you possibly can.

11 Masks That Will Keep You Safe and Stylish

Design Safe/Designer Face Covers/Its All Goods
Design Safe/Designer Face Covers/Its All Goods

Face masks are going to be the norm for the foreseeable future, and with that in mind, designers and manufacturers have answered the call by providing options that are tailored for different lifestyles and fashion tastes. Almost every mask below is on sale, so you can find one that fits your needs without overspending.

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The breathable, stretchy fabric in these 3D masks makes them a comfortable option for daily use.

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3. Reusable Face Masks 2-pack; $15 (50 percent off)

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This cotton mask pack is washable and comfortable. Use the two as a matching set with your best friend or significant other, or keep the spare for laundry day.

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Don’t let masks get in the way of staying active. These double-layer cotton masks are breathable but still protect against those airborne particles.

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Avoid the accidental nose-out look with this cotton mask that stays snug to your face.

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7. Reusable Dust-Proof Mask with 5 Filters; $22 (45 percent off)

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This dust-proof mask can filter out 95 percent of germs and other particles, making it a great option for anyone working around smoke and debris all day, or even if you're just outside mowing the lawn.

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8. Reusable Fun Face Cover / Neck Gaiter (Flamingo); $20

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9. Seamless Bandana Mask; $8 (52 percent off)

Eargasm Earplugs

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Prices subject to change.

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Australia Hotel Bans Local Emus After They Learn to Climb Stairs

No room service for these emus.
No room service for these emus.

The Yaraka Hotel in Queensland, Australia, has banned two unruly regulars from its property—a decision complicated by the fact that the guests in question are a pair of hungry emus. As CNN Travel reports, the bird siblings, named Kevin and Carol, have had their visitor privileges revoked following a pattern of bad behavior.

Yaraka township, where the hotel operates, is home to vibrant wildlife, including the second-largest living bird species on Earth. Despite their intimidating size, Kevin and Carol were once a welcome presence at the Yaraka Hotel. They would stop by occasionally for snacks and entertain guests staying at the hotel's rooms and campsites. But the birds were also known to push their boundaries by raiding picnics and sneaking into the hotel bar. The hotel's owners finally decided to take a stand after the emus learned to climb stairs.

Yaraka Hotel co-owner Chris Gimblett told CNN Travel that emus are "a bit like a vacuum cleaner where food is concerned." To prevent aggressive behavior toward guests in the upstairs dining room, the hotel installed a chain rope at the top of the steps that prevents the birds from entering. The sign that goes with it reads: "Emus have been banned from this establishment for bad behavior. Please let yourself through the emu barrier and then reconnect."

Birds may not be the first thing that comes to mind when listing Australia's most dangerous creatures, but the continent is home to plenty of vicious avian species. In addition to emus, Australia also has cassowaries, which have been called the most dangerous birds in the world. They defend themselves with a 5-inch claw on each foot, and at least two people have been kicked to death by the birds.

[h/t CNN Travel]