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Can All Turkeys Fly?

In the wild, turkeys are very different from the domestic birds that might end up on your table for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Wild turkeys are sleeker, weighing about half as much as turkeys raised domestically, and their plumage is dark, not white, to help them blend in with their surroundings. Wild turkeys have powerful, muscular legs and thighs that allow them to run quite quickly -- as fast as 55 miles per hour (89 km/h) in short bursts. These wild cousins of farm-raised birds can even fly, exploding off the ground and into the trees in order to avoid danger from predators. Just don't expect to see a turkey -- even a wild one -- soaring gracefully overhead: their flights only cover about 100 yards (91 m) or so.

Fly, you turkey:

  • Turkey wings are cupped, which allows them to get aloft quickly, usually from a standstill. Domestic turkeys can’t fly because they have been bred to have very heavy breast muscles..
  • With males weighing up to 25 pounds (11 kg), the wild turkey is the heaviest member of the order Galliformes, or game birds, which also includes chickens, grouse, pheasants, quail, ptarmigans, and partridges.
  • Wild turkeys feed on the ground, but roost in trees at night.
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