Celebrate the United States’ national symbol on National 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.
Why National American Eagle Day is Important
A. They are epic
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.
B. 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.
C. 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."
How to Observe National American Eagle Day
1. 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.
2. Visit the zoo
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.
3. Do some volunteer work for preservation groups
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.