be removed from America’s Endangered Species List.
|American Bald Eagle, copyright Edward Howe, 2013|
I thought I would never live to see a Bald Eagle in the wild. However, sitting at my sister’s breakfast table one morning recently on a chilly, clear day, I looked out across the Fox River and saw a pair of bald eagles perched on an oak tree branch above the fast-flowing river.
I know that there is controversy over whether banning DDT was necessary to the preservation of the American Eagle. The argument was that DDT caused the eagles to produce eggs with defective shells. Both we and the eagle have survived this ban and I am glad that substance is not used anymore.
Benjamin Franklin did not like the Bald Eagle because he observed that it wasn’t uncommon to see eagles steal prey from other birds rather than go hunting for their own dinner. Also, he had seen many times that a handful of air-born sparrows could harass and chase the big raptors away. Lazy and non-aggressive, American Bald Eagles, Franklin thought, could not represent the industrious and courageous spirit of America.
At first, Franklin considered that the rattlesnake would be a good choice as America’s symbol. He ended as a champion of the wild turkey which he insisted was an impressive and aggressive native American bird more representative of the American spirit. But, Franklin lost out and I’m glad.
Bald Eagles do take advantage of other raptors and flee from pestering passerines but, no American bird pierces my heart with a glance like the Bald Eagle. I think I could stare down a turkey or a house sparrow, but not an eagle intimidating me with bright eye and yellow beak. The white feathered Bald Eagle stands for strength, the kind of strength emblematic of America.
I’m glad that these days just about any American can look up and catch a glimpse of this majestic bird soaring against a blue sky and feel one with it, if just for a moment.