(Meleagris Gallopavo,* Linn.—Le Dindon, Buff.)
IT seems to be generally allowed that this bird was originally brought from America, and that in its wild state it is considerably larger than our domestic Turkey. The general colour is black, variegated with bronze and bright glossy green, in some parts changing to purple; the quills are green gold, black towards the ends, and tipped with white; the tail consists of eighteen feathers, brown, mottled and tipped with black; the tail coverts waved with black and white; on the breast is a tuft of black hairs, eight inches in length: in other respects it resembles the domestic bird, especially in having a bare red carunculated head and neck, a fleshy dilatable appendage hanging over the bill, and a short blunt spur or knob at the back part of the leg.
Tame Turkies, like every other animal in a state of domestication, are of various colours; of these the prevailing one is dark grey, inclining to black, with a little white towards the end of the feathers; some are perfectly white; others black and white: there is also a beautiful variety of a fine deep copper colour, with the greater quills pure white; the tail of a dirty white: in all of them the tuft of black hair on the breast is prevalent. Great numbers are bred in Norfolk, Suffolk, and other counties, whence they are driven to the London markets in flocks of several hundreds. The drivers manage them with facility, by means of a bit of red rag tied to a long rod, which, from the antipathy these birds bear to that colour, effectually drives them forward.
The motions of the male, when agitated with desire, or inflamed with, rage, are very similar to those of the Peacock: he erects his tail, and spreads it like a fan, whilst his wings droop and trail on the ground, and he utters at the same time a dull hollow sound; he struts round and round with a solemn pace, assumes all the dignity of the most majestic of birds, every now and then bursting out abruptly into a loud unmusical gurgle.
The hen begins to lay early in the spring: she is very attentive to the business of incubation, and will produce fifteen or sixteen chicks at one time, but seldom has more than one hatch in a season in this climate. Young Turkies, after their extrication from the shell, are very tender, and require great attention in rearing, being subject to a variety of diseases, from cold, rain, and dews; even the sun itself, when they are exposed to its more powerful rays, is said to occasion almost immediate death. As soon as they are sufficiently strong, they are abandoned by the mother, and are then capable of enduring the utmost rigour of our winters.
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