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The original Thanksgiving bird

RIVER VALLEY — In the modern era, people gather at the Thanksgiving table to gobble up domesticated turkeys. But, they’re not nearly as colorful as the wild turkeys that have strutted across the region for thousands of years.

Wild turkeys were so plentiful in the area in the early 1700s that Dutch hunters named Callicoon Creek after the noisy birds, originally calling it Kolikoonkill, which meant cackling turkey stream.

And Benjamin Franklin famously believed that the wild turkey should have been named the national bird rather than the bald eagle. He thought that eagles were lazy because they stole fish from other birds, and in a letter to his daughter, Franklin wrote, “In 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 and silly, a bird of courage.”

Copyrighted photo by David B. Soete
This photo of a spectacular wild turkey was taken on April 15, 2006 at 5:14 pm in Dyberry Township in Wayne County, PA. (Click for larger version)