- Caruncle-fleshy bumps on the head and neck
- Snood-long flap of flesh that hangs over the beak
- Wattle-red skin that hangs from the neck
Another prominent and noticeable feature of the turkey is its plumage. An abundance of feathers covers the breast, wings, back, body and tail of the bird. Male turkeys also have what is called a beard located in the chest area. Upon sight, the beard appears to be hair, but is actually a mass of thin feathers. It grows from the chest below the neck and consists of black feathers that resemble long coarse hairs. The beard grows longer with age. Hens may occasionally have beards, although they are typically not as well developed as the ones seen on the males.
Male turkeys have sharp, bony, spike-like projections on their legs called spurs, which can be quite sharp and are used for fighting. I’ve known of some hens that will actually have small spurs too, but that’s not as commonly seen as it is within the males.
They have fewer taste buds than mammals and it is believed they can taste salt, sweet, acid and bitter tastes. Turkeys also have a poor sense of smell as the region of the brain that controls the sense of smell is relatively small.
Turkeys have great hearing, but no external ears. They can also see in color, and have excellent visual acuity and a wide field of vision, about 270 degrees, which makes sneaking up on them difficult.
Turkeys are able to adapt to a wide variety of habitats. However, most turkeys are found in hardwood forests with grassy areas.
At one time, the turkey and the bald eagle were each considered as the national symbol of America. Benjamin Franklin argued passionately on behalf of the turkey. Franklin felt the turkey, although “vain and silly”, was a better choice than the bald eagle,whom he felt was “a coward”.