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11/22/16- Pigeon for Thanksgiving?

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It is time to get your fat pants out because Thanksgiving is just a few short days away. Many families celebrate Thanksgiving and many traditions have been formed since the first Thanksgiving centuries ago. Turkey and dressing will be the main course at many feasts followed by rice and gravy, but have you ever thought about what was served at the very first Thanksgiving? Luckily, I have come across a few food groups that were present at the very first Thanksgiving and you will be shocked at how the menu has changed over the course of time (and I’m thankful for that). Eagle, eel, and pigeon were just a few “delicacies” that were passed around at the first Thanksgiving.

Eagle

Yes, you’re seeing this correctly…Bald Eagle was consumed at the very first Thanksgiving. Apparently it was believed that the bald eagle was a prestigious bird and deserved a spot right on the table next to the turkey. That, of course, was before the Bald Eagle was an endangered species and the population was nearly decimated by pesticides and other chemicals (DDT especially). Today, the eagle’s numbers have climbed, but it is safe to say that they will not be served up on a silver platter ever again.

Eel

I love sushi. I do not love eel. Maybe it’s a texture thing, I don’t know but I would have to politely excuse myself from the table if eel was ever an option for Thanksgiving. It was served at the very first Thanksgiving (slime and all). I suppose their popularity in the New England area at the time earned them a spot on the dining room table, but I am glad we threw out that tradition.

Pigeon

The pilgrims preferred passenger pigeon at their Thanksgiving gatherings. The pigeons were very common in the area then, but now there are no existing wild populations (thanks to old thanksgiving traditions probably). Once again, I am so thankful that we are not expected to serve pigeons to our loved ones. I understand that this bird is a delicacy in other countries, but I would prefer to stick with turkeys and pigs for the meat on my table.

It is wild to think that animals that are now extinct or federally protected were once served at Thanksgiving. It really goes to show how times have changed, for the better I must add! While you are passing around the mashed potatoes and the green bean casserole this year or carving your turkey and ham, be THANKFUL an eel is not being fileted in the kitchen. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy!

By: Meaghan English

My name is Meaghan English, a wildlife specialist with TrueSouth. I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management and I have grown up with a passion for hunting. I knew from an early age that I was not only interested in the harvesting of wildlife, but I was also very interested in their biology and management. I decided that I not only wanted to be a wildlife enthusiast, I want to be an educated wildlife specialist. I will be using that grand education as a member of the TrueSouth team contributing wildlife blog articles!

My first hunting memory flashes back to when I was six or seven years old. Like any other Saturday during deer season, my dad had told my mom to get me ready because we were going hunting. Of course I was ecstatic! I was not ecstatic about the hair bow my mom made me wear with my camouflage (she wanted everyone to know I was in fact a fashionable girl). The entire way to Perdue Hill, Alabama, my dad told me that today would be the first day I would actually shoot my first deer and I knew I was ready. We pulled up to the camp, unloaded, and fed all the “camp cats”. Before we headed to our stand, I had spotted three kittens that I simply could not leave behind so I stuffed them in my jacket. After walking what seemed like five miles, we finally made it to the “Pressbox stand” (with my smuggled kittens) and sat down. Dad continuously pestered me to be quiet, but I wasn’t that worried about shooting a deer, I had kittens! Eventually, the sun began to sink behind the trees and a spike (without olfactory senses) entered the field. When it was safe to quietly move, dad handed me the gun and I handed him my three kittens. I slowly pulled the gun up and placed my cheek against the stock. Dad told me to breathe slowly and pull the trigger when I was ready. Sure enough, I pulled the trigger and the spike hit the ground. We high-fived, exchanged kittens again, and climbed down to see the kill. It certainly was not a wall hanger, but a huge chapter in my life was started that night. My dad and I still hunt together to this day and we practice quality deer management at all times.

My ultimate goal is to provide clients with a survey of flora and fauna that currently inhabit a specific tract of land and, if desired, how to properly manage that land for the species that are found there. All feedback is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you!

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