TURKEY. Meleagris. Of this magnificent domestic fowl there are but two species. M. gallapavo, the common wild species, and from which our domestic varieties are descended, and ocellatus, a Nvild species, a native of Hondu ras, and indeed extended over various parts of Central America. In Mexico, is found M. Mex. icanus, much resembling the common wild turkey. Since the discovery of America the wild turkey, as represented by the domestic varieties, have been carried to almost every civilized nation of the earth. Of the wild turkey, Mr. D. G. Elliot says that, the turkey was first introduced by the Spaniards from Mexico into Spain, and thence carried to England. In the reign of Francis the First, they were imported into France, and the first one eaten in that eountry was served up at the banquet given at the wedding of Charles the Ninth, in 1570. Bred with much care they rap idly increased, and soon were taken into Asia and Afriea. It would be difficult to ascertain why its popular name was given to this bird, and it is to be somewhat regretted that sueh an appel lation should ever have fallen to its lot, since it is apt to give rise to the supposition that it origi nated in Asia instead of America, the eastern ' in place of the western. hemisphere. Not so much to be regretted, however, at the present time as formerly, for, since ornithology has taken its rightful place among the sciences, and its hidden things are investigated and explained by the researches of so many able minds, the results of whose labors dignify and elevate their subject, the origin of so noble a bird is not likely ever again to be lost sight of. At one time the turkey was pretty generally distributed throughout the United States, but like the Indian, it has gradu ally disappeared before the onward march of civ ilization, until now one must look for it amid the unsettled portions of our Western States, and the vast regions through which the Mississippi, Missouri, and their tributaries flow. It is still quite plentiful in the Southern States, man3r parts of which are yet covered with the virgin forest, while in the middle and Northern States: it has ahuost if not entirely disappeared. The turkey may be considered as both migratory and gregarious ; the first of these circumstances arising mainly from the exhaustion of their favorite food in any particular section of the country, or upon the opposite fact, of there 'being a great abundance of it in some other place. When this last is the cause of their migration they seem to be insensibly led towards the land of plenty by finding the supply increase as they advance, and not from any particular instinct of their own. Their food consists of maize, berries, fruits, grasses, acorns, and in that part of the county where it abounds, the peean nut is pre ferred by them to everything else. When migra ting, if they reach a river over whieh they desire to cross, they generally remain near the bank for a day or two previous to making the effort; seemingly either to consult tipon the means of accomplishing their intention, or to recuperate their strength before undertaking the difficult feat. While they are thus wahine the males employ their time chiefly in gobbling continu ally, or in strutting pompously about with low ered wings and expanded tails, the females some times even imitating them in these movements. When they consider that the time has arrived for proceeding on their journey, the entire flock mount to the tops of the highest trees, and, at a given signal of their leader, launch themselves. into the air and fly to the opposite shore. The old birds easily cross, but should the stream be wide, the young and feeble frequently miss the desired point and fall into the stream, when they proceed to swim ashore, which they accomplish with considerable dexterity, by closing their wings, using their expanded tails for support, and striking out rapidly with their long and powerful legs. Sometimes if the shore should be veiy steep, some are unable to ascend, and falling back from their unsuccessful attempts, perish in the water. Toward the latter part of February, the pairing season commences, and, then the females separate and endeavor to hide from the males, while the latter, with almost unintermitted gobbling, seek for them in all di rections. Whenever the males meet while thus occupied, fierce battles ensue, ending, generally, in the death of the weaker party, unless he is fortunate enough to escape hy flight. Of these fights Audubon says: I have often been much diverted while watching two males in fierce con flict, by seeing theni move alternately backward and forward, as either had obtained a better hold, their wings drooping, their tails partly raised, their body feathers ruffled, and their heads covered with blood. If, as they thus struggle and gasp for breath, one of them should lose his hold, his chance is over; for the other, still holding fast, hits him violently with spurs and wings, and in a few minutes bring4 him to the ground. The moment he is dead, the con querer treads him under foot; but what is. strange, not with hatred, but with all the: motions which he employs in caressing the fe male. The males do not always confine their _attentions to one female; sometimes several of these may be seen accompanying one gobbler, until they commence to lay, when they hide themselves for the greater part of the day in order to save their eggs, which he would destroy -whenever he obtained the opportunity. The nest, a very simple structure, is generally placed in some thicket to conceal it from the prying eyes of its various would-be despoilers, and the hen approaches it with great caution, rarely en tering it twice from the same direction. The number of egg,s deposited varies considerably, some nests having ten, others as many as twenty. They are of a dull cream color, profusely sprinkled with red spots. The young, when first hatched, are covered with a delicate hairy down, and are very tender; so susceptible to the influence of the weather that, should the season be rainy, great difficulty is experienced by the hen in raising them, for they rarely survive a thorough wetting. To guard against such a catastrophe the first night is generally passed by the young brood in the nest, and the mother then leads them to elevated dry places, reposing them at night under her outspread wings until they are two weeks old, when they roost upon the broad branch of a tree, still covered, how -ever, by their watchful parent's wings. The turkey has many enemies beside man, and -among those most feared by it are, perhaps, the lynx and great horned owl. The former sucks their eggs, and seizes both the young and old birds, his stealthy, noiseless progress enabling him to approach even so wary a blrd unnoticed. The owl is equally dreaded, his soft plumage permitting him to fly about their roosting place without a sound, like some midnight sprite. The manner in which his attacks are evaded is both ingenious and successful, and is accom plished in the following way: As soon as the warning cluck of some watchful turkey has placed the whole number on their guard, they immediately stand upright upon the limb and observe eveiy movement of their foe, who, soon selecting one of them for his prey, swoops upon it with the velocity of an arrow, and it would seem that the fate of that one was inevitable; but as rapid as was the owl's movement, still quicker is that of his intended victim; for, lower ing his head and inverting his outspread tail upon his back, he meets his enemy with this in clined plane, over which he glides harmlessly, and the turkey drops to the ground and insures safety by running away. Many are the means employed to obtain possession of these birds, some of which are too often eminently success f ul; and also equally reprehensible, and although there may be instances, where turkeys are very numerous, that they may, to a limited extent, injure the growing crops, yet they are never so destructive as to render their almost complete extermination necessary. Many are trapped, sometimes whole flocks are captured at once in pens constructed for that purpose; and, in some parts of the country, man's ingenuity is ex hausted in, seemingly, how to arrive, in the shortest possible time, at their extinction.
The turkey is an extremely shy bird, taking alarm at the slightest sound; hence it can be readily understood how they would naturally shun man's presence, and prefer the depths of our great forests, or the solitude of the vast plains. and that, as a matter of course, they should become scarcer as the population near them increased, even though artificial rneans should be wanting to lessen their number. Audubon states that when he removed to Ken tucky, rather more than a quarter of a century ago, turkeys were so abundant that the price of one in the market was not equal to that of a common barn fowl now; and that he has seen them offered for the sum of three pence each, the birds weighing from ten to twelve pounds. The average weight of this splendid bird is about fifteen to eighteen pounds (for the mature males), and the female from nine to ten. Some gobblers have been known to weigh much more than this estimate, and instances are not wanting where individuals have been obtained weighing thirty and forty pounds each; but this is rare. When full grown the male will measure four feet in length and nearly five feet in the stretch of its wings. The naked skin of the head and neck is blue, with the wattles red, as are also the legs. The feathers of the neck and body generally are a coppery bronze, changing in some lights to a greenish or purplish shade, and rnargined with an opaque line of velvet black. The back and rump are also black, with little reflection, while the sides, together with the upper and under tail coverts, are dark chestnut, barred with black near the end, and having metallic reflections of a rich purplish hue, while the extreme tips are opaque purplish chestnut. The tail feathers are dark chestnut barred with black, and tipped with a light chestnut. Near the end is a band of black, broadest on the outer feathers, and narrowing as it approaches the central ones. Between the bars on the feathers is a confused sprinkling of black. Neither upon the tail nor its coverts is there any white, and this is one of the ways by which the wild bird can always be distinguished from the domesticated. From the center of the breast hangs a long coarse hairy tuft, sometimes not found in the other sex. The female differs principally in being smaller in size, less brilliant in coloring, absence of the spur, and the small fleshy process at the base of the bill. But three species of this genus are acknowl edged generally, the common wild turkey, already described, the Mexican Wild Turkey Wel, agris Mericanus,) an inhabitant of New Mexico, re sembling the preceding bird so closely that it would probably be considered identical by the casual or unscientific observer, and with habits also similar. The third species, called Ocellated Turkey (tlfeleagris ocellatus,) is a native of Hon duras and other parts of Central America, is one of the most beautiful birds known to ornitholo gists, its feathers fairly blazing with metallic re flections of gold, green, blue, and bronze, while four series of ocellated spots, are found upon the tail and its upper coverts. But little is known of its habits, and comparatively few spechnens have been obtained for scientific or other purposes. Careful breeding greatly im proves the size of the turkey, especially in its native country. The heaviest turkey that has been known in England previous to 1853 weighed at death, thirty-two pounds. But that weigtht has been nearly doubled in this country. This result has been brought about by judicious crosses, and by reserving the best formed and heaviest-birds of each year's raising for future breeding purposes. Experience also teaches conclusively that turkeys from two to five years of age are much better for breeding than young birds. The person who aims to breed good turkeys should select from two to six of the best females that. he can procure, from two to three years of age; then procure a male turkey, not less than two years of age, and not related to either of his hens. Breed from the same birds for three or four years. During this time save a few of the finest young hens for future breed ing, then when the old ones are discarded, procure another male turkey not related to the young hens. Afterwards it will only be neces sary to procure a male bird once in three or four years, but never mate him with any of his own young. As to color, the breeder must select according to his own taste. Size of the young depends as much upon the hens as the cock. By following this simple rule, with high feeding and good care when young, the breeder will most assui edly have the satisfaction of increas ing the hardiness and strength of the young chicks and the size of his mature Christmas roasters. The lien turkey possesses fair laying qualities, sits very steadily, and hatches in from twenty-eight to thirty days. As soon as the young poults are hatched, confine the turkey mother or hen in a large coop in a very dry, sunny place; never allow the young to run till after the dew is off. nor during rainy weather. One year old turkeys are found to be the best mothers, and gobblers should not be kept more than three years. The first day the chicks require no food. The second day they may have equal parts of egg and milk beaten together and baked into a custard, also what cracked wheat they will eat. This may be alternated with boiled oatmeal and milk. Green food must also be given them, such as chopped dan delion, lettuce, ctc. They should be fed at least four times a day. The greatest care is required during the first two weeks of their growth, after which they may be allowed to ramble at will with the hen, being careful to feed them morning and evening. During the grasshopper season they will pretty well take care of themselves. The usual plan in the West is to allow the hen turkey to select her nest, hatch her brood, and pretty much care for them. In dry, warm, summer climates like the West, where there is plenty of range, we have found this the best, being careful to feed twice a day. In the autumn they may be fattened on whole corn or, better, be put in a tolerably dark place and fed with what cornmeal and oatmeal mush they will eat, being careful to supply them with clean, pure water. In raising turkeys they should he proportioned about ten or twelve hens to one cock. To save the trouble of watching them while seeking nests, prepare a yard of one-eight of an acre for every fifteen birds, wherein nothing else is allowed to go. The best arrangement for a nest is small houses, about three feet by three, gable-shaped, and three feet high in the center. Nests should be scattered about the yard, and, if convenient, partially bidden by brush. Turkeys, North, lay in April, and if two or three incline to one nest, set another box at right angles and adjoining the one they covet. Take away the eggs every night, and place them in parcels of sixteen or eighteen. Set several turkeys at the same time, as half a dozen flocks can be as easily cared for as one, and those hatched and taken off about the same time usually run together without fighting. As soon as they leave the nes/4 they should have a yard twelve feet square for every two turkeys,'by setting up boards, a foot wide, endwise. The mother must be washed with tohacco-juice, and the young chickens dusted with snuff, to kill the lice, or sulphur and snuff, mixed in equal parts, sprinkled over the nest soon after the turkey begins to sit, and, as opportunity affords, dust the turkey herself. The young ones must he fed sparingly, at inter vals of an hour, with coarse-ground Indian meal mixed with scalded sour milk curds, and fine-chopped hard-boiled eggs; in six or eight weeks they will be able to master grains of corn. They require watching for two or three weeks after being turned into the fields, lest they wander into heavy, wet grass and perish; and should be driven up every night and shut into a stable or barn. They will soon get accus tomed to coming home, and in due time will aspire to a roost