Of all the Thanksgiving symbols the Turkey has become the most well known. The wild turkey is
native to northern Mexico and the eastern United States.
The turkey has brown features with buff-colored feathers on the tips of the wing and on the tail.
The male turkey is called a Tom and, as with most birds, is bigger and has brighter and more
colorful plumage. The female is called a Hen and is generally smaller and drab in color. The Tom
turkey has a long wattle (a fleshy, wrinkled, brightly colored fold of skin hanging from the
neck or throat) at the base of its bill and additional wattles on the neck, as well as a
prominent tuft of bristles resembling a beard projecting downward from its chest.
The turkey was originally domesticated in Mexico, and was brought into Europe early in the 16th
century. Since that time, turkeys have been extensively raised because of the excellent quality
of their meat and eggs. Some of the common breeds of turkey in the United States are the Bronze,
Narragansett, White Holland, and Bourbon Red.
Though there is no real evidence that turkey was served at the Pilgrim's first thanksgiving, in a
book written by the Pilgrim's Governor Bradford he does make mention of wild turkeys. In a
letter sent to England, another Pilgrim describes how the governor sent "four men out fowling"
returning with turkeys, ducks and geese.
"I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country: he is a Bird
of bad moral character: like those among Men who live by Sharping and Robbing, he is generally
poor and very often lousy.
The Turkey is a much more respectable Bird and withal a true original Native of North America"