The Fountain re-published this article I wrote back in 2009 and decided to re-post it here also. (with editing) Happy Thanksgiving, 2012!
Today, many of us here in the United States ate turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Luckily, many turkeys will survive our holiday and continue to roam around. Here locally in Polk County, Florida, I see a “rafter” of turkeys (name for a group of turkeys – incorrectly called a “gobble” or “flock”) from time to time. Near Bartow I have seen them many times in rafters up to 11 turkeys. Near Circle B Bar Reserve, I have seen other groups up to 8 turkeys.
The domestic turkey is a descendant of the Wild Turkey and features prominently in the menu of the Canadian and U.S. holidays of Thanksgiving and that of Christmas in many countries.
The Turkey is in the Galliformes Order and in the Phasianidae (Pheasants, Fowl & Allies) Family. There are two turkeys – Wild Turkey – Meleagris gallopavo and the Ocellated Turkey – Meleagris ocellata. The Wild is native to North American forrests and the Ocellated is native to the Yucatan Peninsula forrests. They are relatives of the Grouse family. Both Turkeys have a “distinctive fleshy wattle that hangs from the underside of the beak and a fleshy protuberance (flap of skin) that hangs from the top of its beak called a snood.” Turkeys are the heaviest member of the Galliformes order. The females are smaller and duller than the males. The male weighs from 11-24 lbs (5-11 kg) [record=38lbs] and measures 39-49 in (100-125 cm). They also have from 20,000-30,000 feathers.
Congressional Proclamations from CreationWiki.
“The United States Congress set December 18, 1777, as a day of thanksgiving on which the American people “may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor” and on which they might “join the penitent confession of their manifold sins . . . that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance.” Congress also recommends that Americans petition God “to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.'”
Congress set November 28, 1782, as a day of thanksgiving on which Americans were “to testify their gratitude to God for his goodness, by a cheerful obedience to his laws, and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.”
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:20 KJV)
WhatBird’s Wild Turkey
Wikipedia’s Wild Turkey and Ocellated Turkey
Video of an Ocellated Turkey and a Wild Turkey displaying on Internet Bird Collection