Founding father Benjamin Franklin wanted to name the turkey as the national symbol of the United States. Along with the Muscovy duck, the turkey is the only domesticated bird that's native to the Americas.
The survival of the wild turkey was once threatened by habitat destruction and overhunting, though its population has bounced back since the 1940s. Turkeys are not only found in the Americas, but in Europe, Hawaii and New Zealand.
Male turkeys are famous for their iridescent feathers, red wattles, fanlike tail and the gobble that summons their harems. After the eggs are laid, the female feeds the chicks for a day or so, then they forage on their own. The male does not care for the chicks, also called poults, and sometimes hens and poults come together to form huge flocks. Some turkey hens have been known to lay their eggs in the nest of another hen. They also lay eggs in ruffed grouse nests, but the ring-necked pheasant lays eggs in the nests of wild turkeys.
Turkeys mostly live on the ground, though they roost in trees at night. They're active during the day, and they don't migrate. They eat both insects and salamanders, though they usually eat acorns, seeds, fern fronds and leaves. They have been known to climb into shrubs to reach the buds and the fruit.