I hope you are enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with friends and family. I assume you are among the 90% of Americans that celebrated Thanksgiving by sitting down to a gustatory feast that included roast turkey. Now I suppose it is off to the fitness center to burn off all those calories. Better yet, go for a nature hike!
The bird that has become the symbol of Thanksgiving is one of two species of turkeys native to North America. The wild turkey is native over much of the forested area of the U.S. It is that turkey that has been domesticated to become the icon of our Thanksgiving. The other native turkey, the Ocellated turkey, is native to forests of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Of course turkey is not just the bird we eat on Thanksgiving Day. Turkey is a much more important player in our lexicon and culture. For some of us, Thanksgiving weekend may involve a visit to the local bowling alley. If you are a good bowler or get lucky you may even get a turkey. Not literally of course. I have read that the term for this skillful feat originated long ago when a live turkey was given to a bowler that got three strikes in a row. It was a promotional gimmick back then, but has now become an important achievement for bowlers.
I would guess this weekend might also be a good time to take in a movie. There are some good movies out, but based on what I have heard there are a few turkeys too. As you may know, sometime in the past, the term turkey became a reference for a box-office failure. No doubt you have heard the term in reference to other failures as well.
Yes, turkeys and a turkey have become quite common in our society. Thanksgiving must take on added significance in places like Turkey, Texas and Turkey North Carolina. A person that is quitting one of their vices “cold turkey” may be under considerable strain and become a real turkey for a while. Perhaps if they would just get out on the dance floor to do the turkey trot their disposition might improve.
Turkeys are not native to North Dakota, but introductions of the bird have been so successful that we can now find them across much of the state. Even if one of them is not in your immediate area, there is probably a turkey of some sort waiting to make every day a “Turkey Day!”
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Dakota College at Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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