A couple of weeks ago, I received a request/suggestion in my email box for an upcoming Sunday hunt for links article. Because of the time of the year, tis the season for giving thanks, I felt today would be a good time to feature the bird that at least one of our founding fathers wanted to make our national bird. More on that in a moment. I am talking about the Wild Turkey, not to be confused with it’s domesticated cousin, the turkeys my father used to raise and the ones many of us will have for Thanksgiving dinner. Trust me, there is a world of difference between the two birds, as we will soon see.
If there is such a thing as a true native American, it would have to be the Wild Turkey. At it’s highest point of population, it could be found all across North America, including Mexico. He was here with the Indians, before the explorers and settlers arrived, and he was already an integral part of their lives. He supplied food for their stomachs and feathers for their ornaments. As with any of God’s creatures, the Wild Turkey is quite an amazing animal. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about this magnificent bird.
The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is native to North America and is the heaviest member of the Galliformes. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which was domesticated from the South Mexican subspecies of the Wild Turkey.
Adult Wild Turkeys have long reddish-yellow to greyish-green legs and a black body. Males have a large, featherless, reddish head, red throat, and red wattles on the throat and neck. The head has fleshy growths called caruncles. When males are excited, a fleshy flap on the bill expands, and this, the wattles and the bare skin of the head and neck all become engorged with blood, almost concealing the eyes and bill. The long fleshy object over a males beak is called a snood. When excited, a male turkey’s head turns blue, when ready to fight it turns red. Each foot has three toes, and males have a spur behind each of their lower legs.
Turkeys have a long, dark, fan-shaped tail and glossy bronze wings. As with many other species of the Galliformes, turkeys exhibit strong sexual dimorphism. The male is substantially larger than the female, and his feathers have areas of red, purple, green, copper, bronze, and gold iridescence. Female feathers are duller overall, in shades of brown and gray. Parasites can dull coloration of both sexes; in males, coloration may serve as a signal of health. The primary wing feathers have white bars. Turkeys have 5000 to 6000 feathers. Tail feathers have the same length in adults, different lengths in juveniles. Males typically have a “beard”, a tuft of coarse hair (modified feathers) growing from the center of the breast. Beards average 9 inches (230 mm) in length. In some populations, 10 to 20 percent of females have a beard, usually shorter and thinner than that of the male. The adult male normally weighs from 5 to 11 kg (11–24 lbs) and measures 100–125 cm (39–49 in). The adult female is typically much smaller at 3 to 5.4 kg (6.6–12 lbs) and are 76 to 95 cm (30–37 in) long. The wingspan ranges from 1.25 to 1.44 m (49–57 in). The record-sized adult male Wild Turkey, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation, was 38 lb (17.2 kg).
Wild Turkeys are surprisingly agile fliers and cunning, unlike their domestic counterparts. Turkeys are very cautious birds and will fly or run at the first sign of danger. Their ideal habitat is an open woodland or savanna, where they may fly beneath the canopy top and find perches. They usually fly close to the ground for no more than a quarter mile (400 m). Turkeys have many vocalizations: “gobbles,” “clucks,” “putts,” “purrs,” “yelps,” “cutts,” “whines,” “cackles,” and “kee-kees.” In early spring, male turkeys, also called gobblers or toms, gobble to announce their presence to females and competing males. The gobble can carry for up to a mile. Males also emit a low-pitched “drumming” sound; produced by the movement of air in the air sack in the chest, similar to the booming of a prairie chicken. In addition they produce a sound known as the “spit” which is a sharp expulsion of air from this air sack. Hens “yelp” to let gobblers know their location. Gobblers often yelp in the manner of females, and hens can gobble, though they rarely do so. Immature males, called jakes, often yelp.
As I have already mentioned, the Wild Turkey is nothing like the bird most of us will be eating for Thanksgiving. Talk to anyone who hunts these birds and they can tell how how true that is. They are extremely cagey animals and very hard to draw in close enough to get a good shot. That is why turkey hunters are usually the ones wearing the most camouflage in the woods. They are also the ones who can be heard trying to imitate the various vocalizations made by the Wild Turkey. If there is one weakness a tom turkey has, it’s a hen turkey. Given the right circumstances, they will show up when they hear a hen yelping in the trees.
Before we get to the links for today, I want to include a quote from a letter written by Benjamin Franklin to his daughter. In it, he espouses his admiration for the Wild Turkey.
For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.
With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country…
I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.
While it is not known if Ben Franklin actually advocated to Congress as they took six years to choose the Bald Eagle as our national bird (hmmm, some things haven’t changed), he did capture the essence of the Wild Turkey. He may be extremely cautious and ready to take flight at the drop of a hat, but he will also not hesitate to fight. As you can imagine, a bird as big as the Wild Turkey can put up quite a fight, if he chooses to do so. Fight or flight, the Wild Turkey is a truly amazing bird and a true Native American. Now, to the hunt for links.
America’s Watchtower wonders why Senate Bill S510 gives control of the FDA to the Department of Homeland Security.
Bunkerville has coverage of the START Treaty.
Capitol Commentary questions why the Democrats voted to keep Nancy Pelosi on as their leader.
The Classic Liberal wonders why Christians trust government, since it was the government who killed Jesus.
Conservative Hideout has more on the lame duck Congress and the Dream Act.
A Conservative Teacher explains a little prank he pulled on a group of liberal teachers, exposing their hypocrisy.
The Current has an excellent post on how the Senate is trying to guide our attention away from Senate Bill S510.
Fleece Me says liberals have the power to ignore reality.
Maggie’s Notebook asks why MSNBC has suspended Joe Scarborough for exercising his freedom and donating to the political candidate of his choice.
Motor City Times explains that China’s ban on rare earth exports has exposed a major weakness in our economy.
Muskogee Politico has Sarah Palin’s letter to the new members of Congress.
Oklahoma Watchdog has an essay on freedom and Thanksgiving.
One Mom is sad that there seems to be no time for giving thanks in America.
Paladin’s Page explains that Nancy Pelosi is a paragon of the Democratic Party.
Practical Man has a very interesting take on bribes, uhh, I mean earmarks.
Reporter 37 tells all of the Oklahoma politicians who are looking for more money from their constituents, the trough is empty.
Republican Redefined has more on the battle between the left and the right, not over policy, but over the fact that Bristol Palin actually made it to the finals of Dancing with the Stars.
rjjrdq’s America II says California is putting illegal aliens in front of American students.
WyBlog wonders why a 15-year-old girl only got one year of detention for selling her 7-year-old sister for sex.