Today I learned from firsthand experience that turkeys are quite curious and are attracted to shiny things. And by “attracted” I mean they peck at shiny things. I met the small rafter of pecking offenders (yes, a group of turkeys is referred to as a rafter, gaggle, or flock) today at a small animal sanctuary near me. These animals are rescues that cannot be released into the wild, but are living their best life on the farm.

Turkey bird, animal photography. Free public domain CC0 image.

Pecking aside, I was immediately interested in their flapping wattles and an array of red fleshy bumps on their heads and necks. Those bumps are called caruncles (new word!). And technically speaking, the wattle is also a type of caruncle. Both play a role in helping turkeys stay cool since they do not have sweat glands. In addition, the wattle is important in mating – a brighter red wattle on males attracts more attention from females. And just to add to our turkey vocabulary, the fleshy appendage that hangs over the beak of turkeys is called a snood.

My dive into turkey research also revealed that turkeys can run (up to 18 mph!), fly, and swim. And not only do turkeys gobble, they also purr, yelp, and cluck. The gobbler turkeys (adult males) mate with multiple females then return to his own bachelor rafter and leave the chick-rearing to the females. Those chicks? They hatch fully feathered with their eyes open. Within hours of hatching they can chase after mom. Okay, one more word – a young turkey is called a poult.