by Nicole Na
Thanksgiving is a time of plenty, a time where we join our families and friends around the dinner table replete with a traditional feast — mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, and, of course, the turkey. Despite its venerated place as the centerpiece of many Thanksgiving feasts, the life-story of this noble bird isn’t exactly common knowledge — which is why, this week, we celebrate this fowl by giving a brief history of its species.
The turkey we find on our table and the turkeys we see out on the land are the same species, Meleagris gallopavo. Their historic range stretches from Arizona to Florida, south through Texas and parts of Mexico, and north all the way to Maine and Idaho. In California, all checklists currently list the wild turkey to be a non-native introduced species and the product of some rather aggressive introduction programs in the ’60s and ’70s. However, some argue that the turkey isn’t an introduced species, but a reintroduced species. Some 10,000 years ago, in the Pleistocene epoch, a native turkey ranged freely in California, which circumstantial evidence suggests is the exact same bird as M. gallopavo. So, the recently immigrated turkeys now living here could be considered a reintroduced population, living life blissfully ignorant of the fact that they died out in the area several millennia ago. (source)
Other wild turkey facts:
Thanks for tuning into Mountains + Molehills this week. I hope you end your Thanksgiving with a full belly and a head full of turkey facts! Catch us again next week for a philosophical post by Corby Hines.
Sonoma Land Trust is a local nonprofit based in Santa Rosa, CA, that conserves scenic, natural, agricultural and open lands in Sonoma County for the benefit of the community and future generations. This blog focuses on SLT's stewardship team, whose members do hands-on work to directly protect, restore, and safeguard the land for generations to come.