Attempted Turkey Escape Sends Today Show Hosts Ducking for Cover

For my monthly appearance on the Today Show this November, I kept with the annual tradition of bringing on a wild turkey and other North American wildlife in celebration of one of our most American holidays, Thanksgiving.

Here’s the segment.  You’ll see the wild turkey did indeed go a bit wild when it was time for the next animal to come out, and Kathie Lee and Hoda took cover!  (Yes, they are very, very dramatic.)

Be sure to scroll down below the video to learn more about these awesome American wild animals.

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Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey
Photo by David Slater.
  • Wild turkeys are found only in North America.
  • They are one of only two North American species to ever be domesticated (other is the Muscovy duck).  Spanish explorers collected wild turkeys from what is now Mexico and took them back to Europe where they were domesticated.
  • Baby turkeys are called poults are are precocial, meaning they hatch out of the egg ready to walk and feed themselves, under mother’s careful watch of course.
  • Turkeys feed on a wide variety of nuts, fruits, berries, seeds, insects and small animals.  Find out how to feed wild turkeys the natural way right in your garden.
  • It was unlikely that turkey was served at first Thanksgiving, but venison, goose and fish were.


Photo by Zion National Park.
  • Coyotes are wild dogs found only in North America.
  • Once found only in the West, after wolves were eradicated from much of North America in the 19th and 20th centuries, coyotes spread coast to coast filling in the niche left vacant by their larger cousins.
  • They are much smaller than wolf, usually weighing in at only 25-40 lbs. Eastern coyotes tend to be a bit larger,  due to interbreeding with wolves and domestic dogs.
  • Coyotes are very adaptable and opportunistic, allowing them to live much closer to people than wolves.
  • They help keep rodents and suburban deer populations healthy and in-check in the absence of larger predators.  They do sometimes also prey on domestic pets, so it’s important to keep cats and small dogs indoors.
  • Today are found even in urban areas like Central Park and Chicago.


Beaver Shot
Photo by Paul Stevenson.
  • Beavers are the largest rodent in North America. The only rodent in the world larger (at least in weight) than a beaver is a South American capybara.
  • Beavers were important fur-bearers for Native Americans and European colonists alike. Their fur is thick and water proof.
  • They create wetlands that many plants and other wildlife species rely upon, from amphibians to waterfowl.
  • Beavers were once almost wiped out from over-hunting and habitat destruction, but due to protections and better management, the species has made a huge comeback and is now found coast to coast.

Gopher Tortoise

Florida's Gopher Tortoise
Photo by Craig ONeil.
  • Gopher tortoises are a relatively large eastern tortoise species. They are native to sandhill ecosystems in the deep south, and are now found only in Florida.
  • They dig burrows used by dozens of other species and as such, are considered a keystone species.
  • Gopher tortoises are herbivores, feeding exclusively on plant material.
  • Much of the gopher tortoise’s habitat has been destroyed by rapid and continued suburban development. The species is in serious decline.

Harris’s Hawk

Harris's hawk
Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Native to the Desert Southwest and down into South America
  • Unlike most raptors, these hawks live in family groups and hunts in packs— think velociraptors from Jurassic Park.
  • Pack hunting is an adaptation to desert living, where food is scarce. Hunting in numbers increases success.
  • This species is popular in the sport of falconry, and is often used on TV and in movies.
  • Feeds on mice and other rodents, jackrabbits, birds and other small animals.

Find out where David will be next and watch his latest TV appearances.