National Bird a Wild Turkey?

Photo by Luke Robinson

Photo by Luke Robinson

Did you know that if Benjamin Franklin had his way, our national bird would have been the wild turkey? Yes, it’s true! After the 13 colonies voted for independence from Great Britain, the colonists decided they needed a national emblem or official seal.  Most of our founding fathers felt that the bald eagle represented freedom, spirit and integrity. At that time, tens of thousands of these magnificant birds lived in North America.

Benjamin Franklin was not a fan of the bald eagle however. He thought it was a bird of “bad moral character” because they were known for taking food from other birds! He didn’t think the eagle was a “proper emblem for the brave and honest.”

Instead….Ben Franklin thought the wild turkey offered a better choice. It is a respectable bird and an original native of American. “A bird of courage” he wrote.

Against Franklin’s views, the Second Continental Congress accepted the Great Seal of the United States with a bald eagle in its center, not a turkey.  Now, we see the bald eagle on coins, paper money, many US stamps, and military coins and pins.

Our third graders have been learning about national symbols and emblems. tony with kids comTo tie-in with that theme, Ms. Valenta’s 2/3  class did some bald eagle research in their library class. With the help from Mr. Monteith and Airman Anthony Hembree, US Air Force, the students were each assigned to research 3-5 facts about a specific part of the bald eagle. Then they recorded their facts and we made a movie using Microsoft Photostory3. You can view the movie below.

In the Seattle area, we are spoiled because hundreds of bald eagles call our area home. It is not unusual to see them perched high in the tops of trees or swooping down to the water to catch a salmon. 

 Recently, I found out about a live camera that shows a pair of bald eagles 24 hours per day from Mrs. Yollis’s Classroom Blog.  Her students have been viewing the eagles and making comments on her blog. If you click on this Live Eagle Camera link, it will take you to the eagle camera in Iowa. Please note that when you first click on the link, there is a 20-30 second advertisement, and afterwards, it switches to the live camera.

Live video chat by Ustream

There is also a live camera on a bald eagle nest on Lake Washington in the greater Seattle area. This camera is maintained by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Click here to view the WildWatch eagle camera in Washington.

Have you ever seen a bald eagle in person?

What new fact did you learn from our Bald Eagle video?

Leave us a comment and let us know!

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19 thoughts on “National Bird a Wild Turkey?

  1. Yes, I have seen bald eagles in person. I lived on the island of Adak in the Aluetian Island chain off the coast of Alaska. There were a great many there although we were above the tree line. They made their nests high up in the craggy hillsides. Eagles are majestic and beautiful birds.

  2. Dear Hembree,

    Thank you for this wonderful post.

    I have some information on eagles.

    I found out that eagles llike to build nests in places that is very hard for
    anyone to get to.
    Eagles nests are called eyries and are made from heaps of twigs.
    Eagles return to the same nest every year.

    Hope you like my interesting information.
    From your blogging pal,

    • Hello BB,
      Thank you for the terrific comment! Yes, bald eagles build huge nests that are very high up in trees. I took a class on bald eagles once and we took a walk in the woods and were able to see one in person. It’s hard to see the details thought when the nests are up high and you are way down on the ground.
      Bald eagles only live in North America, but are there other kinds of eagles in Australia? Did you view the eagle live web-cam? I love to watch the mamma eagle take care of her eaglets!
      Mrs. Hembree

  3. Dear Mrs. Hembree,
    No haven’t seen a bald eagle in person, but I hope to see one. I learned that bald eagles only live in North American and can fly 100 mph! Good job researching.
    From, Syon

  4. @ Mrs Hembree,

    Thank you for replying back to me.

    Yes I did view the eagle cam I really thought it was amazing. The eagle is so beautiful.

    Yes in Australia eagles they called Wedge tail eagles. They live all over Australia. They are protected.
    My mum has seen a wedge tail eagle when she lived in the Snowy Mountains.

    From your friend,

  5. Great job on the bald eagle report! We are so fortunate to have an eagle nest by our home. Eagle’s are a truly magnificent bird and fun to watch especially when they are being harassed by crows!!

  6. Dear Mrs. Hembree,

    Another brilliant project coming out of your library. The students did an amazing job! Not only was the PhotoStory amazing, but I had no idea that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national symbol!

    I love PhotoStory. It creates such a brilliant story. It’s great being able to combine pictures, words, and audio all into one!

    I’ve seen bald eagles in zoos before. Also, when I taught in Savannah, while out golfing one day, I saw one swoop down from the trees, dive down to the pond and come up with about a foot long fish! It was an incredible sight! They are definitely one amazing animal!

    Mr. Avery
    Mr. Avery’s Class Blog

  7. Dear Mrs. Hembree and Ms. Valenta’s 2/3 class,

    Thank you for that excellent post and video about bald eagles! I never knew that Benjamin Franklin wanted turkeys to be our national bird. His reasons are all very smart, but I’m glad we decided to have the bald eagle as our national symbol. It would be weird to have pictures of turkeys on our money!

    I have been lucky enough to see a few bald eagles in real life. I lived in Northern California for a while and saw some around the coast. Sometimes we do see them in Connecticut, but not very often. I have seen some in Maine though.

    The thing I really liked about your video was how the images went perfectly with the facts you were sharing. Seeing the wingspan and the huge talons helped me understand just how big these majestic birds are.

    Great job!

    Mr. Salsich

  8. Dear 2/3rd graders and Mrs. Hembree,

    I really enjoyed the research on bald eagles. I had no idea that the wild turkey was almost chosen! I have seen eagles in Kirkland in many of our parks during the summer.

    Great job!
    -Ms. Valenta

  9. Dear Mrs.Hembree,
    I loved the video I never knew eagles only live in North America.I didn’t know that the eagles egg is a size of a tennis story is very cool that you could add your voice to it.
    From your student,

  10. Dear Mrs.Hembree,
    I didn’t know that the eagle was the national bird. I couldn’t belive that the turkey was almost the national bird.Have you seen an eagle?
    From, Leon

  11. Dear Bulldog Reader,

    I really like the bald eagle. That reminds me the eagle is my favorite animal.

  12. Dear Bulldog Readers,

    Woo! I have never knew all those things about the Eagle. I wonder how fast they fly. It would be cool if you keep posting things about every cool animal.

    Techie Kids

    • Dear Natalie,
      Eagles are very amazing animals! When they are swooping down to hunt, they can fly very quickly.
      What amazing animals live near your home? I imagine you see some animals there that we don’t see as often here!
      Mrs. Hembree

  13. Bald Eagles are extremely beautiful. I love watching them hunt for food and fly across the sky. I think it’s just appropriate to be our national bird as they show braveness and freedom.

  14. I don’t know, I bet American wouldn’t want their National Bird to be on their table during Thanksgiving, right? I’d rather prefer bald Eagle.

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