Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
Location: Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park
Photo: © 2008 Jeffrey Berger
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.
Thus wrote Ben Franklin in a letter to his daughter dated January 26, 1784. Old Ben regarded the wild turkey as "a true native American" and the bald eagle as an ignoble snatch-thief who purloins fish from honest ospreys. In retrospect, had the choice of national bird been reversed, it is hard to imagine a plump gobbler with cranberries and yams ensconced on our currency.

The wild turkey is the second largest bird in North America, and the toms are truly handsome critters with iridescent feathers. A mature gobbler may stand 4 feet tall and weigh up to 24 pounds with wings spanning 5 feet across.

In truth, both the wild turkey and the bald eagle are native to the Americas.  However, Americans cannot lay exclusive claim to either species, since both range from Canada to Mexico.

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