Celebrate the United States’ national symbol on American Eagle Day! On June 20, we set aside time to raise awareness about the bald eagle and to preserve the bird’s natural habitat. The holiday is meant to educate others about the birds’ importance, and to explore ways we can ensure that the eagles continue to thrive for decades to come. In the 1950s, the bald eagle was at serious risk of becoming extinct. Loss of their natural habitat, hunting, and the use of pesticides that damaged their eggs made caused the population to massively decline. The bird was classified as endangered in the U.S. in 1967. The bird went on to become a prime success story of the Endangered Species Act. The bald eagle began to repopulate and thrive, and in 1995, it was moved from the national endangered species list to the national list of threatened species—a major improvement! As of 2007, the bald eagle is no longer considered threatened and has a healthy population level. National American Eagle Day was launched by the American Eagle Foundation, a Tennessee organization focused on protecting bald eagles and their fellow birds of prey. Bald eagles like to live near large bodies of water, as they mostly eat fish, and are known for their beauty and grace when they soar through the air. They have been known as treasured symbols of the United States since the 1700s.
History of American Eagle Day
Bald eagles are powerful birds of prey indigenous to America. They symbolize strength, determination, and honor. In ancient times — that is, even before the European conquest — bald eagles roamed the great blue skies, witnessing the rise and fall of empires.
On June 20, 1782, the Second Continental Congress selected bald eagles as the national symbol of the United States. Back then, they did not have any threats, either from land or from the skies. More than 100,000 nesting pairs were dominating the U.S. skies during that era. But the story changed for bald eagles in the 19th century.
Poisoning from pesticides, illegal shooting, habitat destruction, lead poisoning, birth defects, etc., resulted in a rapid decline of the eagle population. In 1940, Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act, which provided some protection for the birds. The law prohibited selling, owning, or killing bald eagles. But the population continued to decline, so much so that they were listed as endangered species by 1967. The main culprit was D.D.T., a pesticide used for eradicating mosquitoes and other pests. The chemical reached water bodies and fish on which bald eagles preyed. The D.D.T. interacted with the calcium secreting mechanism of the bald eagle and softened the eggshells. The result was soft eggs that failed to hatch or break under the weight of the incubating mother.
Rachel Carson mentioned in her book “The Silent Spring” the adverse effect of D.D.T. on the ecosystem. As a result, the U.S. banned the use of D.D.T., and this paved the way for the return of bald eagles to the American skies one more time. Fast forward to the present day, thanks to the vigorous conservation efforts, bald eagles are thriving with a population of over 300,000.
We are celebrating Bald Eagle Appreciation Day to understand this unique and powerful bird and spread awareness about its importance to the ecosystem and American culture.
American Eagle Day timeline
When the bald eagle is adopted by America as the national symbol, there are 100,000 nesting eagles in the country.
Congress passes the Bald Eagle Protection Act, prohibiting the killing and selling of the species.
Congress amends the Act, extending the ban to include the golden eagle, becoming the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BEPA).
The Environmental Protection Agency bans the use of D.D.T. for pesticides in the U.S.
Bald eagles boom, and are no longer included on the endangered species list.
The bald eagle is no longer considered threatened and has a healthy population level.
American Eagle Day FAQs
Why is the bald eagle the national symbol?
Bald eagles are strong birds of prey and are traditionally considered to be symbols of strength, determination, and freedom. Their majestic appearance, large nest, strength, and long life made them an ideal candidate for the national symbol.
Are bald eagles still endangered?
Bald eagles are not considered endangered anymore. They are still protected by other laws from hunting, owning, and selling. The bald eagle population was nearly extinct during the mid-90s, but they made a radical comeback, thanks to the conservation efforts of the government and other organizations.
How much weight can a bald eagle lift?
Bald eagles can lift between three and six pounds. In rare cases, people have reported seeing bald eagles snatching pets like small dogs and cats.
How to Observe American Eagle Day
Watch the D.C. Eagle Cam
The D.C. Eagle Cam is a live stream that allows anyone in the world to take a peak into the lives of two bald eagles living in the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. A video camera fixed on the eagles’ nest offers snapshots of their lives.
Host a bird-watching event
What is a Bald Eagle Appreciation Day without actually seeing a bald eagle? Take your binoculars and get ready to hike. Note down the possible locations where you can see bald eagles. They are common these days. Bring your family and friends for the trip, and educate them about the importance of bald eagles. If your local zoo is home to bald eagles, National American Eagle Day is the perfect time to pay a visit and watch them in action. The San Diego Zoo, the National Zoo, an the Saint Louis Zoo all house bald eagles—and there’s a good chance that a zoo in your area does the same.
Do some volunteer work for preservation groups
Bald eagles may be protected from hunting and other human activities, but they are not safe from everything. Fishing lines, wind turbines, power lines, nets, chemical poisoning, vehicle accidents, etc., could cause problems for these exquisite birds. Spend a day with any N.G.O. or work solo to clear the land of trash that could harm the bald eagles. Be a part of the conservation efforts. Seek out local preservation groups in your area and offer to lend a hand. Whether you assist a charity that advocates for bald eagles, or an organization that is focused on other species that are still endangered, your help can make a difference! Check out the American Eagle Foundation to get started.
5 Facts About Bald Eagles That Will Interest You
'Balde' (not 'bald')
Bald eagles are not 'bald'; the term 'bald' comes from an old usage that used to mean 'white-headed.'
Alaskan bald eagles are usually larger than their mainland counterparts, and they can weigh as much as 17 pounds.
Largest bird nest
One pair of bald eagles in Florida built a whooping 20-foot deep and 9.5-foot wide nest that weighed over two tons.
Bald eagles can see longer and wider than humans, and they can even see in the ultraviolet spectrum.
Bald eagles can fly at a height of 10,000 feet, and they can avoid rain and storms by actually flying above the clouds.
Why American Eagle Day is Important
The best conservation story
Bald eagles have one of the most successful conservation stories. They have recovered from the brink of extinction and are now thriving across the United States. From a few hundred to over a few thousand over a few decades, bald eagles are a symbol of the power of American wildlife conservation efforts. Most Americans recognize the image of the bald eagle right away, but few of us know much about how the eagles live or what role they play in our natural ecosystem. The American bald eagle is the only eagle unique to North America, and they can be found all over the continent, from Alaska to Northern Mexico. They are also one of the largest birds in North America, with a wingspan of 80 inches, and build massive nests that are 5 to 6 feet in diameter.
They are champions of endangered species
Not too long ago, the future of the bald eagle seemed dire. Thanks to the hard work of conservationists, and the birds’ classification as endangered species, anxiety over their extinction is a thing of the past. It’s a great reminder that with awareness and determination, we can save endangered species who need protection. Perhaps black rhinos, Bengal tigers, and other endangered species can have similar success stories someday. Bald eagles are apex predators, and they soar at the top of the food chain in their ecosystem. Their presence can help maintain the strength of their prey population and maintain the balance of the ecosystem. Awareness of their importance can help spread awareness about the value of bald eagles and help boost conservation efforts.
They are totally patriotic
The bald eagle was named the National Emblem of the United States in 1782, and its image is used throughout the country as a symbol of this great nation. The image of the bald eagle can be found on gold coins, the silver dollar, the half dollar, and the quarter, plus on the Great Seal of the United States. According to John F. Kennedy, “"The 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."
American Eagle Day dates