Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Although our domesticated turkeys are descended from the wild turkeys that occur through most of the eastern United States and south into Mexico, the domesticated birds can easily be distinguished from the wild turkeys in Florida. How, and why? To begin, nearly four centuries of breeding turkeys for the dinner table has resulted in our selection of birds that produce more meat. Hence, captive birds tend to maximize the qualities we want. They also get less exercise and a diet that helps them put on pounds. Wild turkeys are adapted for being able to escape predators and can fly strongly for short distances. Their diet also varies seasonally with availability of seeds and fruits. They're leaner and tougher birds. Distinguishing wild turkeys form domesticated ones, however, doesn't take a weight comparison. Wild turkeys have a buff to rusty-colored band at the tip of each tail feather, whereas domestic turkeys, like their ancestors from the population in Mexico, have a white band at the tip of their tail.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.