Is a Turkey a Bird? Uncovering the Truth Behind This Feathered Friend


Birds are fascinating creatures that come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. One bird species that is a common sight in the United States during Thanksgiving season is the turkey. However, some people might wonder whether or not a turkey qualifies as a bird.

What is a Bird?

Before determining if turkeys are birds, let us first understand what constitutes a bird. Birds belong to the class Aves of animals and possess specific characteristics that define them as birds. These characteristics include feathers for insulation and flight purposes, beaks without teeth, wings adapted for flight or gliding movement, light bones to reduce weight when flying or perching on branches, powerful muscles for flapping their wings while flying or takeoff motions from standing positions.

Turkey Characteristics

Now that we know what makes up a bird let’s examine whether turkeys have these features. The turkey’s most notable feature is its feathered body covered with iridescent plumage (feathers). Their beak lacks any teeth but has evolved into an efficient tool capable of pecking at food items such as grains or seeds they find on the ground. Turkey wings do not facilitate long-distance flights due to their size; however male wild turkeys use them to intimidate rivals with aggressive displays while females use theirs mainly for balance during roosting activities.

Unlike many other smaller bird species who have hollow bones to support their small bodies’ weight, Turkeys possess heavy solid bones designed specifically for walking rather than flying around like other members of class Aves.

Turkey Classification

Turkeys are classified under the order Galliformes along with pheasants and quails because they share similar physical traits such as having rounded bodies with short tails making it easier for them to move along forest floors where they search for food items scattered about the ground. Still, they also possess unique characteristics such as their fan-like tail feathers and distinctive wattle (reddish skin flap) hanging from their necks.


After looking at the defining characteristics of birds and evaluating what makes up a turkey, it is clear that turkeys are indeed part of the bird family. While they may not be able to fly long distances like other birds, Turkeys share many physical traits with other members of Aves classifying them in the group. So next time you see one wandering around your backyard or on your plate during Thanksgiving dinner remember that these feathered creatures are still very much birds!