Yes, the Bald Eagle is the US national bird, but I’ll bet you secretly like the Wild Turkey best.
Though once endangered, the Wild Turkey has made a comeback and is found in most US states (and in northern Mexico). In New England, she has become a bit of a nuisance, flocking onto roadways and chasing suburban children.
Turkeys are social animals, the females at least, and sisters sometimes raise their next brood together. They can be aggressive, which makes sense, since their chicks are grounded. Adult turkeys can fly and swim, though they usually choose to run and walk.
They are quite fast runners. Once a turkey challenged me to a race. I was riding my bicycle on a paved country road, and a turkey began trotting next to me. Just for fun, I sped up, and the turkey continued running alongside of me. Finally I broke loose and pedaled as fast as I could, and the turkey and I were in tied in a fiercely competitive race. Eventually we left farmland and passed into a copse of trees, and the turkey had to fly up into the branches.
The word for turkey in Munsee Delaware is puleew, and the turkey is the totem animal for one of the major clans. Delaware women would wear cloaks of turkey feathers during important ceremonies.
The turkey has been the downfall of many a vegetarian. Many have told me that they stayed away from animal flesh completely for a year or more until one day, when they were really hungry, there was turkey….
I want to thank my readers for dropping by, subscribing, commenting, sharing, and contemplating the material posted here. I have been posting weekly for almost four years now. Hard to believe. When I started in 2012, I had about three readers per month — and two them were me. Now this blog has over a thousand unique “hits” per month and it is read all over the world. A special hello to my followers in Brazil, Indonesia, France, South Africa, and Turkey.
Yes, Turkey. This large native of North America was exported and domesticated in the 16th century and confused in English with a type of fowl imported from the country Turkey. It is called puleew (poo-LA) in the Munsee Delaware language. In the U.S. the turkey is a symbol of gratitude, being the traditional meal on Thanksgiving. I’m a vegetarian, but I still appreciate this beautiful, highly social bird that has made an amazing comeback in the wild over the past twenty years. Ben Franklin wanted to make it the national bird, and in many ways it is.
A significant bird for the Delaware nations is the Eastern Wild Turkey – Puleew in the Delaware (Munsee) language. The pronunciation is pooh-LA, with a nasal vowel in the second syllable, the way an American would pronounce the “a” in the word cat. It is the emblem for one of the three major clans. Women used to dress for special occasions in cloaks of wild turkey feathers.While I appreciate the beauty of turkey feathers and have fond memories of turkey dinners, I’ve never had much respect for the intelligence of this bird, as it doesn’t display much sense around traffic. I’ve had some close calls braking for unexpected turkeys, which are large enough to cause serious accidents.Sometimes they can be cute though. In mid June I spied a hen with eight or ten little yellow chicks as I sped down State Highway 73 and I had to stop for a picture. Mother and babies were reconnoitering for a highway dash. I have an inexpensive digital camera not designed for photographing wildlife, so I got out of the car and crossed the road to get close enough to shoot the family. Maybe you can guess where this is heading.The hen became alarmed and went after me, though she first got her chicks hidden in the brush, which actually showed some presence of mind. It took me a few seconds to grasp what was about to happen. As she sped over in my direction, it occurred to me that if I stood my ground I could get a really good picture. But I decided to retreat.When I thought about the incident later, I realized this situation could have been catastrophic. If the hen had attacked me, I would probably have run into the road without looking for traffic, and I could have been hit by a car. Like I always say: those darned turkeys are really dumb around traffic.