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Turkey (bird)

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A male wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) fans its tail feathers. The "wattle" can be seen at the beak.

The turkey is a large bird native to the Americas. The wild turkey (scientific name : Meleagris gallopavo) is native to the forests of North America. The domestic turkey is descended from this wild turkey, and is the usual centerpiece at feasts in the United States, especially the holiday known as Thanksgiving. The other species of turkey is the ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata). This turkey is native to the forests of the Yucatán Peninsula.

Male turkeys are larger and more colorful than the females. The male wild turkey will fan its tail in a spectacular display. Male turkeys of both species have a fleshy "wattle" hanging from their beaks. Turkeys are related to pheasants, grouse, partridges and other members of the family Phasianidae.

Male ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata) of the Yucatán Peninsula

The turkey was named by Europeans who discovered the bird in the New World. For them, the bird resembled a guinea fowl imported into Europe from Turkey. These Europeans believed the New World was part of Asia. Other birds called turkeys are not related to the New World species.


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