Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Special - The Gobbling Turkey: More Than a Thanksgiving Food

Well, wouldn't you know it? Today's Thanksgiving and I've got a great article for this week! But first, let's look at our “days till” section and my movie update.

It is: 27 days till Christmas
It is: 34 days till New Years

There isn't much to say about movies I've been writing about as they progress. But there is a little newsflash for the upcoming movie Jurassic World (initially called Jurassic Park IV). For the past several months, Jurassic Park fans have been questioning whether or not the upcoming film is going to be a reboot or remake of the first JP movie thanks to a comment made by Sam Neil (Alan Grant in the first and third movies). After all of the news that's revealed concerning this movie, it's been pretty unlikely that JW is in fact a remake. But we haven't been able to know for sure . . . until yesterday! A fan asked the film's director, Colin Trevorrow via Twitter if the film would be a remake and the truth is . . . it's NOT a reboot! Here's the tweet below:
"@pfcbains916 Reboot is a strong word. This is a new sci-fi terror adventure set 22 years after the horrific events of Jurassic Park."
I don't know about you, but I think it's great that we finally are 100% sure that we can look forward to a new movie and not a remake of the first one. Personally, I think it's far too soon for a remake of the first movie. I simply can't wait for June 2015 comes around!

Not really an update, but here's a new trailer for the movie coming out this year called Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie:

Now let's get to my nonfiction article for this week:

Thanksgiving is normally a time of giving thanks and eating. There's one meal item that just about everyone eats; I'm talking about, a bird loved by millions – Meleagris gallopavo, otherwise known as the turkey. This bird is a common species that is found all over the United States. When my family was living in North Carolina, Vermont and New York (yeah, my family's lived a lot of places in my time), we often saw flocks of these birds on their search for food, often just outside out house. Despite the popularity of the turkey, many myths have been made up about these birds and a lot of people don't know much about these birds except the fact that it tastes really good. So let's learn more about America's favorite bird! (Next to the bald eagle, perhaps).

The is often thought of as just Thanksgiving dinner. But there's so much about the turkey that most people don't know. Read on to learn more about the turkey!
The turkey (also known as the wild turkey) is in the Phasianid family, which also contains chickens, pheasants, partridges, junglefowls, quails and peacocks. All these birds are probably in same baramin, also called a “created kind” – one of the original created kinds of animals God made. Being a bird, God created the first member of the Phasianid family on Day 5 of the Creation week recorded in Genesis chapter one (remember that it says “every winged fowl”). It might also be handy to know that the domestic turkey is a descendant of their wild ancestors. However, we're mainly going to talk about the wild turkey today. There's a lot more to these simple-looking birds than what meets the eye. (For instance, did you know that it's a myth that turkeys hold their heads up when its raining so that they drown?) So what makes a turkey a turkey?

Turkeys are known for their characteristic red and/or bluish heads and the fleshy growth on their beaks, known as a "snood".
Well, to start it off, the turkey has a long legs, a feathery body, a relatively small head and beak and, on males, one of the most noticeable features – that fleshy growth on a male turkey's (or tom's) beak. That “fleshy growth” is called a snood. A tom gets up to 49 inches long and weighs 11-24 pounds. A female turkey, also called a hen, stretches 30-37 inches long and weighs 5.5-12 pounds. Toms and hens have quite a few differences between each other. As you might have guessed based on the size and weight estimates mentioned above, toms are larger than hens. Toms are also the only ones to have a snood. The turkey also has the second heaviest weight of any North American bird. Did you know that turkeys also have the amazing ability to change the color of their skin according to their mood? For instance, if the head and neck are rather white, that means that the turkey is excited. The color of a turkey's skin can range from brilliant shades of red, blue and white.

The reddish-brown color represents where wild turkeys live.
Domestic turkey's are plump birds and can't fly. Wild turkeys, however, are agile fliers. Another interesting fact you might not have known about these birds is that they're omnivores, eating a variety of things they find on the ground. Some foods they eat are nuts, seeds, berries, roots, grasses and insects. Sometimes turkeys have been known to consume amphibians and small reptiles (e.g. lizards and snakes)! That's what I call a varied diet! If you want to watch wild turkeys feeding, the best time to be on the lookout for them would be early in the morning or in the late afternoon because these are their favorite times to feed. Turkeys sometimes can be found alone, but they are generally social birds, roaming their range in relatively small flocks.

This flock of both toms and hens is foraging.
Turkeys are one of many species of animals that are polygamous. This is a fancy term that means one male will mate with as many hens as they can. Turkey courtship starts in March and April and this is when toms like to strut their stuff . . . literally! When trying to attract hens, a male turkey will puff out their feathers, drag their wings and, much like a peacock, they'll fan out their tail feathers. This sort of behavior is also known as strutting. After mating season is over, it is time for hens to build and nest and lay the next generation of turkeys. Normally laying 10-14 eggs over a period of 10-14 days (they most often lay one egg per day) in a shallow depression in the dirt covered in woody vegetation, the eggs take at least 28 days to hatch. Soon, it's time for the eggs to hatch! Baby turkey's are called poults, and even though they can leave the nest 12-24 hours after hatching, they'll continue to follow their mother around for four to five months as they mature.

In this photo, we can see a mother turkey with her poults. Aren't they cute?
It's a plain fact – turkeys are found delectable to many different species of animals at just about every stage of life! Poults and eggs are often picked off by opposums, raccoons, skunks, foxes, birds of prey, groundhogs (unbelievable, right?), other rodents and snakes . . . and those are just predators of the young! Predators of both young and adult turkeys include coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, eagles, great horned owls, domestic dogs and (especially in the fall) humans! Humans are actually the top predators of these large birds; so much so that we've domesticated these birds to meet the demand. When faced with danger, most turkeys will run away rather than fly (though they'll fly at times for short distances), but when push comes to shove, turkeys can defend themselves. Large toms especially can be extremely aggressive toward predators; when faced with danger, they can fight with the spurs on the back of their legs, bite with their beaks and bump their large bodies against predators. Many small to mid-sized mammals are deterred by a turkey's defense methods. So long as a human doesn't have a gun, a large turkey will also occasionally fight off a human being, especially where natural habitats are rare. So if you see turkeys in the wild, it's best to give them space and let them forage, undisturbed.

The turkey really is an amazing bird!
The turkey is quite a survivor. And for good reason – they're smarter, have more complex behavior than we give them credit for and can even put up a good fight at times. So this Thanksgiving, instead of merely thinking of the main course of your Thanksgiving's Day meal as good food, but think of it as the amazing, un-dumb and beautifully designed bird God created it to be!

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  1. It wont hurt any bird food works in a pinch but it is not a balanced diet. in the wild hamsters eat seeds and fruits and vegetables, the same as bird food they are scavengers and hoarders, they really like cereal too, same as birds.

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