I often see bald eagles while driving to and from work. While spotting our national emblem sitting in a cornfield always gives me a thrill, I have to admit that eagles do not top my list of favorite birds. Could have something to do with the fact that the ones I see are usually gnawing on a mangled carcass.
No, if I had been around when our forefathers were choosing the country’s emblem, I would have stood firmly in the wild turkey camp. I believe that turkeys, though not very attractive (a trait shared by many of our former presidents), are far more American than the regal eagle. Consider this: the male turkey’s head can turn a shade of blue, while his wattle can quickly switch from red to white. Red, white, and blue…need I say more?
In these trying economic times, our great nation is surely in need of inspiration. Again, America need look no further than Meleagris gallopavo. When necessary, the wild turkey can sprint up to 18 miles per hour—faster than an Olympic runner. And despite its rotund appearance, the turkey is a good flyer, shooting straight up to the sky helicopter-style (I kid you not) and clocking nearly 55 miles per hour. With the turkey for a model, our sluggish economy would speed to recovery in no time.
So the next time you are feeling particularly patriotic, visit the Arboretum. There, along scenic woodland paths, you might just spot the noble bird that fed the pilgrims. And exactly what was the bald eagle doing when the early settlers were starving in the wilderness? You have but to refer to the first paragraph for your answer.
by Jenny Houghton
Youth Program Coordinator