A probably apocryphal tale
says that, when the time was coming to choose a national bird
for the U.S.A.
, the turkey
was considered a front-runner, but was beaten out by the (carrion
-eating) American Eagle
Wow, it's less apocryphal than i'd thought. Benjamin Franklin wrote
I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our Country; he is a Bird of bad moral character; like those among Men
who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy.
The turkey is a much more respectable Bird and withal a true, original Native of America.
The eagle has been a national symbol of the United States of America since 1782. It's first appearance as an American symbol was on a copper cent minted in Massachusetts in 1776.
(With thanks to the Veterans Administration website.)