Talk about a bird making a comeback! No, not the peregrine falcon, which recently flew off the U.S. endangered species list. We're talking turkey -- the eastern wild turkey, a far cry from the farm-raised bird most people eat on Thanksgiving.
Wild turkeys used to live in most forests east of the Mississippi River, from Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico. But by the late 1800s, they had almost disappeared because hunting wasn't restricted and many forests were cut down.
Well, the wild turkey is back -- big time.
"Now, there are more wild turkeys than when the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock," said Steve Sharp of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The conservation group and state governments are credited with the bird's comeback.
"In 1973, there were 1.3 million wild turkeys in the United States," said Sharp. "Now, there are more than 5 million. There are turkeys in every state of the union except Alaska."
Hunting is again allowed -- in spring and fall. Hunters usually are allowed to kill only one turkey a season, but sometimes they're allowed two in states where the turkey population has grown too large.
(By the way, turkeys can fly. But they don't migrate and can become a nuisance if there are too many; also, some could starve during winter.)