The Royal Scam:
Conflicting names of European and American Heritage Turkeys

"What did you just say?"


I stepped into the world of domesticated turkeys fairly ignorant of the subject. Cannot claim to have improved much. My real interest was wild turkeys, -some hunting but mostly just enjoying them in the wild. (and enjoying me out in the wild)

And so.....

I wing walked my way into the turkey hobby reading everything available and I was soon repeating the information to anyone who would politely humor me (While they attempted to escape back into their world of football or beer.) Are they the same thing?

After nearly sixteen or so years, I began to notice little errors in the turkey naming convention; little flags that screamed "Danger, Danger Will Robertson" (So that really dates me)

Because I had noticed that some Heritage turkey breeds appeared on both sides of the Atlantic under different names. Had I been scammed or rather fallen victim to North Americentrism misinformation?

On the bold and adventurous subject of turkeys no less?

As absurd as this might sound, Had the internet lied to me?

(So far) At least three of the breeds I had been reading about seem to appear on both sides of the Atlantic with different names:

The Royal Palm also called the Crollwitzer or Pied

The Bourbon Red also called the Dindon rouge des Ardennes

The Spanish Black, also known as the Norfolk Black

(Pretty sure I will find more "multi-labeled birds" however some of these countries have the annoying habit of not speaking English)

The Royal Palm Turkey also called the Crollwitzer or Pied in Europe

The Royal Palm Turkey Hen also called the Crollwitzer or Pied.

She is flirting (displaying her tail feathers)

Interesting feather dropped by the Royal Palm (Pied) Tom

From the "Turkey Club UK"

The Pied turkey has been in existence in Europe since the 1700s. It is very ornamental and a popular exhibition bird. The Pied is more suited as an egg producer than meat bird.

From the Livestock Conservancy (USA)

The Royal Palm is a strikingly attractive and small-sized turkey variety. The first birds in America to have the Palm color pattern appeared in a mixed flock of Black, Bronze, Narragansett, and Wild turkeys on the farm of Enoch Carson of Lake Worth, Florida in the 1920s. Further selection has been made since then to stabilize the consistency of color and other characteristics.

This Turkey breeder in the United Kingdom states the Pied originated in the states. (Now I am confused)

From "Me"   Did this same color pattern appear on both sides of the Atlantic or was there some "turkey trans-Atlantic shipping" going on back when there were not any custom agents to be bribed? ---Don't know---But I do know people are amazed at this black and white pattern!

Bourbon Red verses the Red Turkey of the Ardennes  "Dindon rouge des Ardennes"

 Association for Promotion of Belgian Poultry lists the Red Turkey of the Ardennes & Ronquieres turkey.

The Ardennes Red in the photos I can find has some with white wings and some with reddish wings.

The Live Stock conservancy has a wonderful description of the history of this type in the United States

I sort of enjoyed the fact that I had never heard of the "Dindon rouge des Ardennes until I was reading Roys Farm in Bangladesh. (age of the internet)

And then recently I came across this wonderful old painting by Frans Snijders:

Had I been scammed again?

Have to repeat:

Did this same color pattern appear on both side of the Atlantic or was there some "turkey trans-Atlantic shipping" going on back when there were not any custom agents to be bribed?

Flemish painter Frans Snijders  (1579-1657)

"Turkey and Cock fighting"

Amazing painting!

Miscellaneous other Turkey Art 

So I have always repeated the story that the Bourbon Red Turkey "appeared" in Kenn-turkey (Kentucky) & then followed the friendly European advance across the continent. Not so sure about accuracy of that story now.

However I have to admit the Bourbon Red is a bit darker than some of the Belgian versions.

Spanish Black (USA) versus the Norfolk Black (UK)

There appears to be agreement, that is the same bird, regardless of the name

From the UK Turkey Club:

"The Black turkey is believed to have been brought to England via Spain in the 1500s. Many farmers in East Anglia and especially Norfolk liked and kept this bird, hence its name. The Norfolk Black has developed over the centuries through selective breeding is now recognized as English in origin. It was taken back to America in the 1600s where it was crossed with the Eastern Wild and from those matings came the Slate, Narragansett and Bronze."

What a great story of the family that saved the Norfolk turkey in the United Kingdom.

Are bones discovered under an Exeter street from the first turkey dinner in England?

Spanish Black/Norfolk Black?

And the good folks of the Untied Kingdom suggest to "Hang" the Norfolk Black Turkey for ten days to improve the flavor. (The turkeys are Game Birds)

All I can say is 'interesting'-not sure what to think about that.....It's right up their with my wife eating sashimi. Could I start a craze for 10 day old turkey.....?

Ronquieres turkey ?

The Ronquieres turkey takes its name from a small village near the Belgian capital of Brussels called Ronquiere and is a pure bred bird.

My version of the Ronquieres hens in the photo above resulted from crossing eastern wild, Bourbon Red and Royal palm turkeys. (mongrels)

Interesting..... Many of the hatcheries are carrying new breeds of turkeys as this web site called Feathered Reptiles and the mention many of their stock came from Porters Rare Heritage Birds.

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