I have visited the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN to observe the eagles. Many spend the winter there, fishing and hunting ducks in the ice-free spots on the Mississippi. It is quite humbling to see dozens of eagles working so hard to find food on a winter’s day; they often miss their target.
The recovery story of our national bird is inspiring. Bald eagles were on the verge of extinction and became classified as endangered in 1967. DDT was banned in 1972 after Rachel Carson published Silent Spring and raised public awareness to the dangers of this pesticide. Her book highlighted the fatal thinning of raptor eggshells and spiraling reproductive decline from ingesting DDT through the food chain. Lead shot was banned in 1991 reducing another leading cause of death; lead poisoning occurred when bald eagles consumed unrecovered hunted waterfowl. In 2005 the classification was reduced to threatened and in 2007 the bald eagle was removed from the endangered list. Today, eagles remain fully protected under the migratory bird treaty act regulating hunting, collecting of feathers, or disruption of nesting. In 1950 there were only 415 nesting pairs; currently scientists estimate 9789 nesting pairs in the United States.
Bald eagles reach maturity around 5 years, at which time both male and female will display the characteristic white head feathers. They pair up monogamously for life of their partner and can live up to 30 years in the wild.
Eagles symbolize strength, courage, fertility, and creation in cultures around the world. May the great thunderbird forgive us and recover from the harm we have done.
Learn more about eagles here.
copyright Kittycooks 2009