Happy Fourth of July! America’s national bird since 1782, the Bald Eagle is an enduring symbol of freedom. Photo by Karen E. Brown via Birdshare. A Bald Eagle snatches a fish from the water. Bald Eagles will soar directly over their prey before suddenly pouncing with one or both feet. Photo by
Brian Kushner via Birdshare. An adult Bald Eagle with a juvenile. The young birds don't develop the characteristic white head feathers of adults until they are about five years old. Photo by Jeff Rawes via Birdshare. A Bald Eagle chases after another’s catch. Ben Franklin objected to having the Bald Eagle as our national bird, citing “bad moral character” and its tendency to steal food. Photo by Mitch Vanbeekum via Birdshare. Look at its breath! For such a large bird, Bald Eagles emit surprisingly weak calls. Photo by
Simon Richards via Birdshare. The majestic Bald Eagle has a wingspan from 5.5 to 8 feet, with females being about 25 percent larger than males. Photo by Susan Newgewirtz via Birdshare. Two Bald Eagles lock talons in courtship. Such rituals include acrobatic displays like cartwheels and high-speed chases. Photo by Jon McRay (Nikographer) via Birdshare. A parent keeps watch over its chicks. Nestlings may be ready to leave the nest as soon as eight weeks after hatching. Photo by Keith Williams via Birdshare. A Bald Eagle carries a branch to its nest. Both the male and the female build the nest, which may take from four days to three months to complete. Photo by Priscilla Morris/GBBC. Bald Eagles are sometimes mobbed by birds many times smaller than they are. This Red-winged Blackbird is most likely defending its nearby nest or young. Photo by Margaret Viens/Macaulay Library. A Bald Eagle grasps its prey. Fish are Bald Eagles’ favorite food, accounting for 56 percent of their diet. Photo by Brian Kushner via Birdshare. A Bald Eagle takes flight near an American Crow. Young Bald Eagles have brown heads, unlike adults. Their plumage is brown and mottled white. Photo by Tony Varela/Macaulay Library. The snowy appearance of this Bald Eagle is caused by a rare condition in which the feathers received less than the usual amount of pigmentation.
Photo by Shravan Sundaram via Birdshare. A parent and a youngster at their nest. Bald Eagles often use the same nest from year to year. Photo by Susan Schalbe via Birdshare.
The Bald Eagle has been an indelible part of American culture for centuries. Even before it was crowned our national bird, it was sacred in many Native American cultures and a symbol of courage, wisdom, and strength.
Bald Eagles were once in danger of extinction, their numbers decimated by human persecution and exposure to the pesticide DDT which caused widespread breeding failures. In 1978, they were listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act across most of the United States. With greater environmental awareness and conservation efforts since then, they have made a spectacular comeback.
In celebration of Independence Day, please enjoy these images of our nation’s symbol in action. Special thanks to the photographers for sharing these moments with us!