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I watched news about turkeys this morning and instead of calling them chickens the news anchor called them birds.

In my opinion, turkeys are sub-type of chickens. They are not a bird because they cannot fly. (In my native language, most birds can fly.)

What is the difference between chickens and birds? Why did they call turkeys birds, not chickens?

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This is a question on taxonomy in biology forum. If you opine that Turkeys are a sub-type of Chickens, or that birds that cannot fly should not be called birds, in that forum, you might get quite a few LOLs or even voted down. Read up on the taxonomy of Turkey from wikipedia. BTW, penguin is a bird. Please, I beg you, read up from wikipedia before making such LOLable opinions. –  Blessed Geek Nov 20 '13 at 2:14
Chickens are birds, too. Both turkeys and chickens are poultry (which may be the word you're looking for). –  Peter Shor Nov 20 '13 at 2:25
Ostriches and emus can't fly but they are classed as birds too. @PeterShor answer, poultry, is probably what you meant instead of chicken. You could edit your question, and explain that in your language (which is?) turkeys are not considered to be poultry. If that were true. thefreedictionary.com/poultry –  Mari-Lou A Nov 20 '13 at 8:09
@BlessedGeek You don't get the point of my question and mislead the question.n I ask this question in context of the English language. In my language (Thai), we call chickens chickens and call turkeys turkeys chickens (this is just an example, the main idea is we have the word chickens in turkeys my native language.) It's OK if this question makes you laugh but I highly recommend you jump out of your own thought and try to learn or explore why people from different location call or perceive the same thing differently. –  Anonymous Nov 23 '13 at 4:42
Pls don't apply Thai language nuances to English. Even Thai language has to conform to scientific conventions. –  Blessed Geek Nov 24 '13 at 5:35
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3 Answers

I assure you turkeys can fly. As a matter of fact the first you hear/see/feel on in flight, you'll remember it. They are loud and a little scary. A chicken is Gallus gallus or Gallus domesticus. A turkey belongs to the species Meleagris galloparvo. Both are birds, belonging to the class Avis. Taxonomically, they are classified in the same family. Many chickens, Gallus spp., can and do fly, although it is obvious why they are not bred for flight.

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The question is a good one. It is not surprising that there is not a word-for-word translation for chicken/bird/fowl back and forth between languages. These animals occupy different roles in different location. I had a friend once who did not speak English, but would argue that pigeons and chickens were the same thing. To make the issue even more complex, the taxonomy of various species changes from time to time. –  Michael Owen Sartin Nov 20 '13 at 2:31
Wild turkeys fly but domesticated ones, i.e. those bred on farms, cannot. Your answer is a little misleading. nwtf.org/all_about_turkeys/wild_turkey_facts.html –  Mari-Lou A Nov 20 '13 at 8:04
As God is my witness... –  Malvolio Dec 26 '13 at 4:06
The flying ability of turkeys doesn't depend on whether they are wild or domesticated. It depends on their weight. Young domesticated turkeys can fly just as well as wild ones. If a wild turkey was artificially fattened to twice it's normal size, it wouldn't be able to get off the ground, either. –  ekhumoro Dec 26 '13 at 21:39
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A bird is any member of the class Aves. Chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) and turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are both galliform ("chicken-like") birds, but they are not at all similar. Turkeys are much larger, up to 40 kg although typically around 10 kg, compared to chicken, which are a quarter as heavy. More importantly, chickens are tastier than turkeys.

Being able to fly, although common among birds is neither universal among them (think about penguins, ostriches, kiwis and dodos), nor unique to them. Bats, many insects, and pterosaurs can fly, and there are gliding species of squirrels, primates, fish, squids, spiders, and horrifyingly, snakes.

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In the New Oxford dictionary, the definition for bird is the following

1 a warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrate distinguished by the possession of feathers, wings, and a beak and (typically) by being able to fly.

Notice how it says typically, before "can fly". That means that birds don't necessarily have to be able to fly. Also the meaning of chicken:

1 a domestic fowl kept for its eggs or meat, esp. a young one. • meat from such a bird: roast chicken.

This shows that chickens are just a certain category for birds. Going on with that, it is perfectly acceptable to call a turkey a bird as well as a chicken, since it falls into both categories.

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A turkey should never be called a chicken in English. They are not the same things at all. –  Jim Nov 20 '13 at 2:55
Well, if you look at the definition of chicken, then technically speaking a turkey can be called a chicken. But, your comment is a good one, because I would never call a turkey a chicken in real life. –  NickelMonster Nov 22 '13 at 2:58
Most of the definitions I see reference Gallus gallus specifically. –  Jim Nov 22 '13 at 4:06
@Jim Why do you say chicken and turkey are not the same thing? What are the differences between them? (In your opinion, not in term of biology) In my language (Thai,) we call turkeys "turkey chickens" (this is just a direct translation.) –  Anonymous Nov 23 '13 at 4:46
@NickelMonster: Oxford Dictionary entries are descriptive, not converting taxonomical names. If two flowers look the same, their description in OED will be very similar, which doesn't mean they are the same plant. Would you call a duck a chicken too? Because it meets the definition as well! What about ostrich? They are kept as domestic fowl, for meat and eggs too! –  SF. Dec 26 '13 at 5:25
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