<p>A wild turkey (<a href="http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/wild-turkey/"><i>Meleagris gallopavo</i></a>) poses at the at <a href="http://www.greatzoo.org/">Great Plains Zoo</a> in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.</p>

A wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) poses at the at Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark

Our Favorite Pictures of Turkeys for Thanksgiving

Browse through these photos of everyone’s favorite holiday bird.

The bald eagle may be the United States’ national emblem, but there’s another feathery friend that many associate with the U.S.—especially around the holidays.

Every November, American families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving with a cooked turkey (or Tofurky), and the president honors one lucky bird by pardoning it from becoming someone’s holiday feast. (See our favorite photos of feasts around the world.)

People have depended on turkey long before Abraham Lincoln established the Thanksgiving holiday in 1863. The Maya domesticated turkeys thousands of years ago. Founding Father Ben Franklin had particular respect for the bird, though the rumors that he wanted to replace the bald eagle with the turkey aren’t true. (Read “Turkeys Can Swim—And Other Fun Facts for Thanksgiving Table Talk.”)

To celebrate this graceful bird that has helped sustain so many people, we present these intimate portraits of turkeys.

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