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Turkeys are a species of bird native to North America, and are perhaps best associated around the world with the uniquely North American holiday, Thanksgiving. They're part and parcel with US identity, much like baseball and hotdogs. In fact, the eminent Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the turkey the national bird, not the bald eagle.

Turkeys are large, with wingspans approaching six feet (2 meters) in males, which are called "toms" or "gobblers." Females are called "hens." It's the largest bird in North America, tipping the scales at twenty-four pounds (11 kg). The name comes from a misconception. Early explorers believed America to be a part of Asia. When they brought the bird to Spain, people thought that it was related to an African bird introduced to Europe via turkey. The name stuck.

Preview the lesson material:

Warm Up: Discuss the question with your partner for five minutes.

  1. What do you know about the American holiday, Thanksgiving?

Comprehension Questions: Answer the questions before/after your read the article.

  1. What is the bird associated with?
               a. turkeys are associated with the bald eagle
               b. turkeys are associated with a similar bird in Africa
               c. it's associated with the American identity
               d. it's associated with Spain
  2. How did the bird get its name?
               a. the name comes from Africa
               b. males are called "gobblers" and females are called "hens"
               c. Benjamin Franklin had something to do with it
               d. the name comes from a mistake

Discuss: Discuss these questions with a partner. Remember to support your answers.

  1. Have you ever eaten turkey? If yes, what was it like? If no, do you want to?
  2. What animals are unique to your country? Please explain.
  3. What dishes are specific to a holiday in your country? Please explain.

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