If you know what Meleagris gallopavo is, then you're well on your way to being an expert on wild turkeys. If not, then enjoy these fun turkey facts just in time for Thanksgiving.

According to the Smithsonian, wild turkeys, (meleagris gallopavo), are more than just big chickens and domestic turkeys, those served at most Thanksgiving dinners, while derived from wild turkeys are actually different.

Some other fun wild turkey facts:

  • The wild turkey was on the verge of extinction by the early 1900s but conservation and restoration now has the population up to about seven million birds.
  • There are actually six subspecies of wild turkeys all native to America.
  • Male turkeys are called gobblers after the 'gobbling sound they make. They can also "purr," "yelp," and "kee-kee." Females are call hens and baby turkeys are called poults.
  • Both male and female wild turkeys have a snood (a dangly appendage on the face), wattle (the red dangly bit under the chin) and only a few feathers on the head.
  • A turkey's gender can be determined from it's droppings. Male droppings are spiral shaped. Female droppings are shaped like the letter J.
  • Wild turkeys can run up to 25 miles per hour. They can fly at speeds up to 55 miles per hour.

As you're sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner and find the the conversation lagging, these fun facts should help liven things up a bit.

[Smithsonian.com]