Why The Wild Turkey Can Eat Just about Anything

--Many gobbler fanatics know that the Eastern wild turkey will eat just about any berry, seed, or bug that will slide down its throat. Even the husks of hickory nuts--a hard-as-rock mast food utilized by few animals other than squirrels--are no match for the powerful gizzard of the wild turkey.

Early natural history buffs, awestruck with the turkey gizzard's crushing power, experimented widely. In the 1680s, Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany had turkeys force-fed glass balls, hollow cubes of lead, and wooden pyramids. "The following day," according to one report, "the glass objects were found to be crushed to powder, the lead cubes flattened, and the wooden pyramids worn down." A hundred years later an Italian scientist, Lazzaro Spallanzani, fed scalpel blades to turkeys and returned after 16 hours to find that they'd been rendered into metal filings. The birds were undamaged. --T. EDWARD NICKENS