The New International Encyclopædia/Turkey (bird)

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TURKEY (abbreviation of Turkey-cock, Turkey-hen, so called as being supposed to come from Turkey, vaguely applied to Tartary or Asia in general). The turkeys are natives of North and Central America, and the only two species known are the common wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) with three subspecies and the beautiful Yucatan turkey (Meleagris ocellatus). They were once regarded as a distinct family, but are now considered the sole American representatives of the Phasianidæ. The wild turkey is like the domesticated one, but more brightly colored. The ocellated turkey of Central America is a smaller and more beautiful species; the plumage is lustrous, and parts of it are ocellated, like the peacock's feathers: the bare head is blue with orange caruncles. This fine species is confined to Yucatan and Central America. The common wild turkey is still found in Mexico, Texas, and Arizona, and in other parts of the West and South, but is scarce east of the Mississippi and north of Virginia or Kentucky, though it formerly ranged well up into New England.

The domestic turkey, the largest of gallinaceous birds, appears to have been introduced into Europe by the Spaniards early in the sixteenth century. The domestic birds vary greatly in plumage from the tints of the wild species to buff, or brown, or pure white, and occasionally produce a crest. On account of its size, and the excellence of its flesh and eggs, the turkey is one of the most valued kinds of poultry. The management of turkeys differs little from that of the common fowl. The young are tender for the first few weeks, and require care, particularly to keep them from getting wet by running among the wet grass, or the like; but afterwards they are sufficiently hardy. See Colored Plate of Peacock, Turkey, and Guinea-Fowl.