Friday, July 15, 2011
The wild turkey was designated the official state game bird of Massachusetts in 1991. A true native American, the eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) is the largest and most widely distributed of the six recognized subspecies of wild turkey in North America. The male can grow up to four feet tall and weigh well over 20 pounds. Hens may be almost as tall but usually weigh no more than 12-14 pounds. The wild turkey is also an official state symbol of Massachusetts, Alabama, and South Carolina.
Native Americans enjoyed an abundance of turkeys for thousands of years before settlers arrived in the New World, although Indians generally avoided eating turkey (regarding it as "starvation food" - believing that turkey was fit to hunt only by children, women, and Europeans). The Indians valued turkeys more for their feathers and as spiritual symbols.