Wild turkeys originated in New World

The wild turkey is not a bird that is native to Northern Ontario. People have tried to introduce it here, but it has never taken hold.
It has, however, been successfully re-introduced to southern Ontario (part of its original range) and into southern Manitoba.
The turkey is the only domestic fowl to have originated in the New World. It was very common in eastern North America, roaming freely from southern Ontario to Mexico, and west to the Dakotas.
In the wild state, toms averaged about 20 or 30 pounds, with some grand-daddies going up as high as 50 or 60 pounds.
They depended on the vast forests of oak, chestnut, and beech which once covered millions of acres. When these forests went, so did the majority of the turkeys.
From what I’ve read, hunting turkeys is a real art. The turkey of today is a wily, intelligent, and fast bird.
This was not always the case. In the early days, hunters had no trouble finding and killing turkeys. They could be very easily shot—and even clubbed to death.
The New Englanders used to send boys out to round up turkeys to be fattened up, or to bring in a hen turkey with her young ones to be raised along with the chickens.
Strangely enough, our domestic turkeys were not domesticated in the New World at all. Instead, they were taken to Europe by the Spaniards, and very quickly spread to France, Germany, and England.
They became very popular, especially with the nobility.
Many varieties were produced, and some of these found their way back to the British colonies in America. The Bourbon Red, the White Holland, and the Black Norfolk, among others, came to us from Europe.
The first truly American turkey was the Mammoth Bronze—a very common breed today.
Turkeys breed very well in the wild, as long as there is enough to eat. They roost high in the trees and are not bothered by most of the common predators.
Young turkeys, which are called poults, can fly only three weeks or so after they are hatched. They have a pretty high rate of reproduction.
Although wild turkeys are quite clever and self-reliant, their domestic cousins are anything but. They seem to be completely stunned most of the time, doing everything in a stupid way.
Hence the word “turkey” to describe anyone who allegedly behaves in the same way.
Turkeys on the farm are susceptible to a host of diseases and parasites. They are hard to raise—in spite of the fact their wild counterparts are quite hardy and rugged.
Wild or tame, the turkey is with us, hopefully, for a long time.
Meleagris allopavo, to give him his proper name, will always be welcome as the table centerpiece for our festive days.

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