He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
Bald Eagle - An American Emblem
bald eagle was chosen June 20, 1782 as the emblem of the United
States of American, because of its long life, great strength and
majestic looks, and also because it was then believed to exist
only on this continent.
On the backs of our gold coins,
the silver dollar, the half dollar and the quarter, we see an eagle with
On the Great Seal of the United
States and in many places which are exponents of our nation's authority we see
the same emblem.
The eagle represents freedom.
Living as he does on the tops of lofty mountains, amid the solitary grandeur of
Nature, he has unlimited freedom, whether with strong pinions he sweeps into the
valleys below, or upward into the boundless spaces beyond.
It is said the eagle was used
as a national emblem because, at one of the first battles of the Revolution
(which occurred early in the morning) the noise of the struggle awoke the
sleeping eagles on the heights and they flew from their nests and circled about
over the heads of the fighting men, all the while giving vent to their raucous
cries. "They are shrieking for Freedom," said the patriots.
Thus the eagle, full of the
boundless spirit of freedom, living above the valleys, strong and powerful in
his might, has become the national emblem of a country that offers freedom in
word and thought and an opportunity for a full and free expansion into the
boundless space of the future.
Bald Eagle gained immediate, unofficial recognition as our National bird
when the Great Seal of the United States was adopted on June 20, 1782.
Official designation of the massive bird that has a wingspan of from 6
to 8 feet did not come however, for six more years. During that
time it was the subject of fierce arguments by leading political leaders
of the day.
January of 1784 elder statesman Benjamin Franklin registered his
own disapproval of the eagle as our National bird when he
bald eagle...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.
turkey is a much more respectable bird and withal a true
original native of America."
That Might Have Been
eagle's friends prevailed in the end, however, and in 1789 George
Washington became our Nation's first President and the American Bald
Eagle became our Country's official bird. Almost 150 years later
the American Bald Eagle was protected under the National Emblem Act of
1940. President John F. Kennedy later wrote:
Founding Fathers made an appropriate choice when they selected the
bald eagle as the emblem of the nation. The fierce beauty and
proud independence of this great bird aptly symbolizes the strength
and freedom of America."
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus Ieucocephalus) is found only on the North
American continent. Adult eagles generally weigh between 9 and
12 pounds and have a wing span of 7 feet. Females are slightly
larger than males. Immature eagles are mottled brown and white.
The distinct white head and tail of the mature bird is developed
between 4 and 6 years of age.
Eagles do not live in isolation! Because they are at the top of
the food chain, they become an irreplaceable indicator for
measuring the the health of our entire ecological system.
After being listed as an endangered species in 1978 following a
dramatic drop in population that began at the turn of the
century, the Bald Eagle's status was upgraded to Threatened
August 11, 1995. Although efforts to replenish populations of
the Bald Eagle have been successful, it continues to be
protected under the Endangered Species Act, the Bald Eagle
Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
mainly on fish, but water fowl, small mammals and carrion
supplement their diet, especially when fish are in short supply.
Eagles can fly up to 30 m.p.h. and can dive at speeds up to 100
m.p.h.. Their keen eyesight allows them to spot fish at
distances up to 1 mile. Eagles swoop down to seize fish in their
talons and carry it off, but can only lift about half of their
weight. Bald Eagles can even swim to shore with a heavy fish
using their strong wings as paddles. However, it is also
possible that they can drown if the fish weighs too much.
mate for life and can reach the age of 40. Courting behavior
begins in early April and often involves spectacular aerial
displays of eagles diving and locking talons. Eagles lay from 1
to 3 eggs (commonly two) and the eggs usually hatch between late
May and early June after a 34 or 35 day incubation period. By
the end of the summer, the parent eagles begin to suffer from
"empty nest syndrome" as their offspring can generally
fly and take off to be on their own. Eagles migrate in winter
and often roost and hunt in groups along waterways that don't
freeze and have abundant food supplies.
species: Haliaeetus (sea eagle) leucocephalus (white head)
Size: 1 m (3
ft.) in height; 2.3 m (7 ft.) wing span
males 3.5 to 4 kg (8-9 lb.), females 4.5 to 6 kg (10-14 lb.)
Adults at 4 to 5 yrs. are identified by their white head and
tail, solid brown body, and large, curved, yellow bill.
Juveniles have blotchy patches of white on their underside
up to 30 years in the wild, longer in captivity
maturity: 4 to 5 years of age
31 to 45 days
live and nest near coastlines, rivers, lakes, wet prairies,
and coastal pine lands in North America from Alaska and
Canada south into Florida and Baja, California.
fish swimming close to the water's surface, small mammals,
waterfowl, wading birds, dead animal matter (carrion).
listed by USFWS as threatened in all but three of the lower
48 states and protected by CITES; populations are healthy in
1. The bald
eagle is not really bald; it actually has white feathers on
its head, neck, and tail. Bald is a derivation of balde, an
Old English word meaning white. The eagle was named for its
white feathers instead for a lack of feathers.
eagles may use the same nest year after year, adding more
twigs and branches each time. One nest was found that had
been used for 34 years and weighed over two tons!
3. The bald
eagle can fly 20 to 40 mph in normal flight and can dive at
speeds over 100 mph.
eagles can actually swim! They use an overhand movement of
the wings that is very much like the butterfly stroke.
5. More than
80% of the bald eagle population in the southeastern United
States is concentrated within the state of Florida.