Turkey in flight

The Thanksgiving turkeys on our tables this holiday originated from native wild turkeys whose populations have been restored across much of North America thanks to scientific wildlife management by state fish and wildlife agencies. COURTESY PHOTO BY JOSHUA MORSE

One of our native wildlife species historically played an important role on Thanksgiving Day. North America’s native wild turkeys were the ancestors of the Thanksgiving turkey on our dinner table. 

Originally found only in the wild, turkeys now exist as meat-producing domesticated derivatives — the broad breasted white, broad breasted bronze, white Holland, bourbon red, and a host of other breeds – all of them descended from our native wild turkey.