National Bald Eagle Appreciation Day is on June 20. We celebrate the day to commemorate the anniversary of choosing the bald eagle as the American national symbol.
Bald eagles were a rare sight until some years ago. Pesticide use, hunting, human-caused accidents, and other factors have resulted in a rapid decline in the population of bald eagles across the United States. In all, there were only around 400 eagles in all of the contiguous states in the 1950s.
It took some painstaking and strict conservation efforts to bring these majestic birds back from extinction. But thanks to the conservation effort and their status as a national symbol, the bald eagles are back in action.
History of Bald Eagle Appreciation 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.
Bald Eagle Appreciation Day timeline
The Second Continental Congress chooses the bald eagle as the national symbol of the U.S
Congress passes a law protecting bald eagles from being hunted, and prohibits owning and selling bald eagles
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.
Bald Eagle Appreciation 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 Bald Eagle Appreciation Day
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.
Raise awareness about bald eagles
Not everyone is a bald eagle enthusiast. But anyone can be. All they lack is information on the amazing story of bald eagles and their importance. Spread facts about bald eagles through online and offline media and campaigns.
Become a rescue volunteer
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.
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 Bald Eagle Appreciation 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.
The apex predator
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.
A day to volunteer
Bald Eagle Appreciation Day provides an adventurous and fun opportunity for bird lovers and patriots to come together. They can volunteer for bird watching and conservation efforts. This can help spread information faster to the broader public
Bald Eagle Appreciation Day dates