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A turkey by any other name is an eagle?

Wild turkeys are becoming more commonplace in Hubbard County thanks to three releases as part of a relocation project. Steve Maanum / For the Enterprise

It's Thanksgiving weekend - a time to be together with friends and family, eat leftover turkey buns, and think of all the ways in which we are thankful.

Many of you are already aware that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our National bird instead of the bald eagle, but do you know how the turkey got its name?

The more I researched this question, the more theories I found. Some explanations pointed to early European explorers who discovered the bird here and brought it back to England where it was mistaken for a tasty bird exported from Turkey to England.

The Turks called it a chulluk, but the English called it the 'Turkey bird" and finally just shortened the name to "turkey." Others say the name came from the sound turkeys make - "turk, turk, turk." Yet another theory is that the name came from an American Indian word for the bird, "firkee." You can take your pick or search for other possible explanations.

In recent years, wild turkeys have become a more common sight in our area. A big part of that is due to a relocation project in which birds that were captured in southern Minnesota were transported up here to be released. Our local DNR and members of the Tall Pine Toms chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation worked together to determine release sites that had the required habitat (preferably wooded river bottoms), food availability, and corridors for moving and expanding.

In recent years there have been three releases in the Park Rapids area, totaling in excess of sixty wild turkeys. Some of our fifth grade students assisted in releasing the birds.

The Tall Pine Toms chapter of the NWTF not only deals with wild turkeys. This month it, along with the Osage Sportsmen's Club, Mantrap Valley Conservation Club and Women's Auxiliary, and the local chapter of Minnesota Deer Hunters donated sixty-two domestic turkeys to the Hubbard County Food Shelf. (See the photo at left).

If Benjamin Franklin would have gotten his way and the turkey would have become our National bird, would we still be eating it on Thanksgiving? Think of all the phrases where we use the word "eagle" and how different they would sound if we used the word "turkey" instead.

For those of you old enough to remember the first lunar landing in 1969, the Apollo crew would have announced to the world, "The turkey has landed." When a golfer scores two under par on a particularly good hole, he would state, "I got a turkey on that hole." My dad had exceptional vision and could pick out details at great distances. We referred to him as "old eagle eye." For some reason, "old turkey eye" just doesn't have the same ring to it. Far be it from me to leave you without something to think about.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend and find time to get outside to enjoy some of our natural surroundings. Maybe you'll even hear the "turk, turk, turk" of a firkee.

If you have questions or comments I can be reached at sdmaanum@

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