ON THE WILD SIDE They’re not just here to gob­ble up

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! -

YOU won’t see

● any wild turkeys strut­ting around in the UK but you can see them at farm parks or zoos. Enjoy their shiny bronze feath­ers but don’t dwell too much on the sad fate await­ing them! TURKEYS aren’t just gi­ant, stupid chick­ens. In the UK we only see the overly fat, do­mes­ti­cated ver­sion bred for the din­ner ta­ble. But these proud crea­tures also roam wild on the open plains of the United States. THEY were com­mon in the Amer­i­cas but turkeys were very nearly wiped out due to over-hunt­ing.

They were al­most ex­tinct by the

1930s but enough peo­ple wanted to see them sur­vive that sev­eral schemes were set up to rein­tro­duce them.

Now al­most seven mil­lion are out there and they are be­ing hunted again in the US. Some peo­ple never learn! THEY may be hunted, but they are also re­spected. For­mer pres­i­dent Ben­jamin Franklin wanted the tur­key to be the na­tional bird of Amer­ica as he con­sid­ered the bald ea­gle a thief and a gen­eral bad egg. Turkeys are also sa­cred to some na­tive Amer­i­can tribes, with their feath­ers used to make rit­ual head-dresses and cloaks. YOU may be sur­prised to learn that wild turkeys can fly…and rather fast. They can reach more than 50 miles per hour in flight and like to spend their nights sleep­ing up in trees. LIKE many birds, they can’t see in the dark. But in day­light they can see in full colour and have a field of view of 270 de­grees. In con­trast, hu­mans only have a vi­sion span of 120 de­grees.

THEY look af­ter their ba­bies with ag­gres­sive loy­alty and have been known to at­tack peo­ple who go near their young. The chicks (which are known as poults) will be up and run­ning and for­ag­ing for food on their own within just 24 hours of hatch­ing.

THEY are in one way per­haps the most pa­tri­otic bird of all. The bare skin on a tur­key’s head and neck changes colour with their emo­tions and can turn red, white and blue – the colours of the US flag.

TO fol­low on from last week’s fes­tive theme, let’s talk about a bird that’s very pop­u­lar on the Christ­mas din­ner ta­ble, but didn’t hit our shores until 1526. Yes, I’m talk­ing about that goofy gob­bler the tur­key. ■BIRDS OF A FEATHER: A do­mes­tic tur­key on a farm and, in­set left, its wild coun­ter­part

Q: WHAT do you get if you cross a skunk with a bell?A: Jin­gle smells. WHY did the plank of wood moan about hav­ing noth­ing to do?It was board! PUB drinker: Do you serve women in here?Land­lord: No, you have to bring your own. WHAT hides in the bak­ery at Christ­mas?A mince spy.

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