Talking Turkey

UNITED STATES

There’s much more to America’s holiday bird than white and dark meat. (Nat Geo News)

Use our great study guide to learn more about the wild turkey!

Discussion Ideas
“[T]hat big, tasty bird has left a significant mark on history, science, language, and culture,” according to the fun Nat Geo news article. Does “talking turkey” inspire inquiry?

 

A raft of turkeys gobble on an Arkansas farm in 1988. Photograph by James R. Root, National Geographic

A raft of turkeys gobble on an Arkansas farm in 1988.
Photograph by James R. Root, National Geographic

 

The “Madrid Codex”, an almanac for Maya priests, was not translated until the 20th century. Photograph by Victor Boswell and Otis Imboden, National Geographic

The “Madrid Codex”, an almanac for Maya priests, was not translated until the 20th century.
Photograph by Victor Boswell and Otis Imboden, National Geographic

  • “For the Maya, turkeys were quintessential animals for feasting and for sacrificial offerings,” writes University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee art historian Andrea Stone.

 

Flushed out of hiding, wild turkeys take flight near tall pine trees in this beautiful 1949 illustration. Illustration by Walter A. Weber, National Geographic

Flushed out of hiding, wild turkeys take flight near tall pine trees in this beautiful 1949 illustration.
Illustration by Walter A. Weber, National Geographic

 

Ben Franklin didn’t really want the U.S. to have the turkey as its national bird. He did, however, want a meritocracy. Illustration by David Martin, courtesy White House Historical Association. Public domain

Ben Franklin didn’t really want the U.S. to have the turkey as its national bird. He did, however, want a meritocracy.
Illustration by David Martin, courtesy White House Historical Association. Public domain

  • Benjamin Franklin, knowing that his lengthy letter would probably be published in U.S. newspapers, singled out the eagle as part of a larger cautionary tale against creating aristocratic institutions.
    • What animals signify other countries?

 

Good vocabulary or gobbledygook?  Photograph by Tom Woodward, courtesy Flickr. CC-BY-SA-2.0

Good vocabulary or gobbledygook?
Photograph by Tom Woodward, courtesy Flickr. CC-BY-SA-2.0

 

A West Virginia hunter hauls a large turkey on his back in this 1940 photo. Photograph by B. Anthony Stewart, National Geographic

A West Virginia hunter hauls a large turkey on his back in this 1940 photo.
Photograph by B. Anthony Stewart, National Geographic

  • “The wild turkey is, in every way, the king of American game birds,” Theodore Roosevelt wrote in 1893.
    • What other American game birds can you identify?

 

Three wild turkeys stand together in the woodland. Photograph by M. Williams Woodbridge, National Geographic

Three wild turkeys stand together in the woodland.
Photograph by M. Williams Woodbridge, National Geographic

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