History of the Wild Turkey

Turkeys are a native North American bird. History tells of two species, one of which had six sub-species.

Ocellated Turkey - meleagris ocellata - inhabits southern Mexico and parts of Central America. It more resembles the peafowl than the rest of the turkey family.

Wild Turkey - meleagris gallopavo - may be found in northern Mexico, most of the lower 48 US states and Ontario. It is divided into six sub-species; of which the meleagris g. gallopavo is thought now to be extinct. It is accepted as the forerunner to todays domestic turkey. It had been introduced to Europe by the early Spanish conquerors around 1500.
The other five sub-species are as follows:
Eastern Wild Turkey - Meleagris gallopavo silvestris
Inhabits most of the eastern US and Southern Canadian provinces.

Florida Wild Turkey - Meleagris gallopavo osceola
Inhabits southern Florida.

Merriams Wild Turkey - Meleagris gallopavo merriami
Inhabits the mountainous region of western US and the southern Canadian prairie provinces.

Rio Grande Wild Turkeys - Meleagris gallopavo intermedia
Inhabits south-central plain states and north-eastern Mexico. Also sometimes dubbed the Texas Wild Turkey as about 85% of its population reside in the state of Texas.

Gould's Wild Turkey - Meleagris gallopavo mexicana
Inhabits north-western Mexico and southern Arizona and New Mexico.

Further details of the history and current situations may be found at the National Wild Turkey Foundation site or at the Familiar Birds site.

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