POLITICAL ORNITHOLOGY

THE MAKING OF THE PRESIDENT'S TURKEY, 1997

Each Thanksgiving the National Turkey Federation presents a turkey to the President. The tale behind this year's bird:

MAY: Some 2,000 turkey poults hatch at the Tar Heel Turkey Hatchery in Raeford, N.C.

SEPTEMBER: At 16 weeks, 10 candidates are selected--all toms (or males), because they're bigger. Criteria: size, feathers, posture, temperament. The last is not insignificant: the 1984 turkey flapped its wings in President Reagan's face.

OCTOBER: At 22 weeks, another primary. Four birds make it.

NOVEMBER 20: The National Thanksgiving Turkey is chosen. And so is a runner-up--to serve by waiting (just like Al Gore), in case anything...

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