Turkey in the wild

A wild turkey gobbler struts his stuff in hopes of impressing a mate.

So what is it with turkeys? They gobble to attract mates, so the males are called gobblers, and in this country we gobble ’em up this time of the year. According to the National Turkey Federation, 45 million to 46 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving in the United States.

Related to peacocks and pheasants, the turkey we roast, fry and serve in endless leftovers is a far cry from its wild relatives. Wild turkeys, the only poultry species native to the new world, were common dwellers in the woods of our country when the earliest settlers first arrived. They soon found the large birds to be quite tasty and returning travelers took breeding stock back to Europe and England.

Paul Risk is a professor emeritus and biologist in the College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. Email: paulrisk2@gmail.com.