Turkey, or Meleagris gallo-pavo, L. a bird originally from North America ; but which has long been domesticated in Britain : it has a caruncle both on the head and throat; the breast of the male being tufted. When irritated, the feathers of this part are remarkably erected; the prominence on the forehead is relaxed; and the bare spots of the face and neck become uncommonly red.
Turkies subsist on grain and insects : early in the spring, the female frequently wanders to a considerable distance from the farmyard, for the purpose of constructing her nest; where she deposits from 14 to 17 white eggs, marked with reddish or yellow freckles; but seldom produces more than one brood In a season. Great numbers of these birds are reared in the North of England; and, towards autumn, hundreds at. a time are driven to the London market, by means of a scarlet shred of cloth, fastened to the end of a stick; which, from their antipathy to this colour, serves as a whip.
Turkies, being extremely delicate fowls, are much oppressed by cold : hence the Swedes plunge their chicks into cold water, soon after, or at least on the same day, when they are hatched; then force them to swallow one whole pepper-corn each ; and restore them to the parent bird. Thus, they are enabled to resist the impressions of the severest winters, and their growth is not retarded.
Young turkies are liable to a peculiar disorder, which frequently and speedily proves fatal: on inspecting the rump-feathers, two or three of their quills will be found to contain blood ; but, on drawing them out, the chick soon recovers ; and afterwards requires no other care than common poultry.
Turkies are highly esteemed, on account of their delicate flavour ; for their flesh is not so rank as that of either geese or ducks, and is likewise more nutritious.