The turkey is a large bird native to the Americas. There are two species of wild turkey: one from eastern and central North America and one from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Of course the domesticated variety is raised in captivity all over. They were selectively bred to produce more meat. Males of both turkey species have a distinctive fleshy wattle or protuberance that hangs from the top of the beak called a snood. The male is larger and much more colorful than the female. At sundown turkeys fly into the lower limbs of trees and move upward from limb to limb to a high roost spot. They usually roost in flocks. Courting males gobble to attract females and warn competing males. They display for females by strutting with their tails fanned, wings lowered, while making nonvocal hums and chump sounds.
Eggs are laid in clutches of 4 – 17 eggs in nests on the ground. Male Wild Turkeys provide no parental care. Newly hatched chicks follow the female, who feeds them for a few days until they learn to find food on their own. As the chicks grow, they band into groups composed of several hens and their broods. Winter groups sometimes exceed 200 turkeys.
The earliest turkeys evolved in North America over 20 million years ago, and they share a recent common ancestor with grouse, pheasants, and other fowl.
Want to cook one for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Here's how: Roast your turkey at 325 degrees F for about 13-15 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature reaches about 165 degrees. Some cooks remove the turkey from the oven once it reaches 160 degrees. Then, they tent it with foil, and let it rest on the counter. It will continue cooking under the foil, to reach 165 degrees F. Check the turkey about halfway through cooking, and once the skin gets golden brown, cover the top of the turkey with tinfoil, to protect the breast meat from overcooking. Allow turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.