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American Eagle Day: Fast Facts About The Bald Eagle

Jun 20, 2016 11:14 AM EDT
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On June 20, 1782, the bald eagle was selected as the National Emblem of the United States. With sharp features and majestic wings, the bald eagle is truly synonymous to the United States' might as a nation.

In 1995, former President Bill Clinton and former Tennesse Gov. Don Sundquist each proclaimed the first American Eagle Day on June 20. Since then, 47 states have their own official day in their state dedicated to the bald eagle, as per the American Eagle Foundation.

The American Eagle Day, however, is still not considered a national holiday in the country. But to celebrate the country's national bird, here are some fast facts about the bald eagle.

Bald eagles are not really bald

At one time, "bald" did not really mean hairless, rather "white." The scientific name of the bald eagle is Haliaeetus leucocephalus, which means "white-headed sea eagle."

According to the American Bald Eagle Information, they are the only eagle unique to North America, where they can be found in most places, from Alaska to northern Mexico.

The bald eagle has a brown body and white head and tail. Its legs, feet and hooked bill are yellow.

Bald eagles like fish

The diet of bald eagles usually consists of fish, but they also prey on smaller birds and rodents. They can hunt for their own meal or even steal fish from other birds, as per Defenders of Wildlife.

Females are larger

In terms of length, bald eagles are around 3 feet, with males being smaller than females. Their wingspan can stretch for around 7 feet for females and 6 feet for males.

Relative to humans, they can measure up to 6-feet tall with their wings outstretched, as per National Geographic.

Once they find their mate from late September to early April (depending on the region), the male and female bald eagles work together to build a nest of sticks--one of the biggest in the bird world--usually on tops of trees. Once they find their pair, they live together until one of them dies. The surviving one will then find a new mate.

Bald eagles are a wildlife success story

In the 1700s, the bald eagles in the U.S. were estimated to be between 300,000 to 500,000. But due to hunting, habitat loss and fatalities due to the now banned DDT (a type of pesticide), their numbers dipped to as low as 500 nesting pairs.

Thankfully, DDT was heavily restricted in 1972, and their numbers have rebounded with more than 70,000 eagles now in the whole North America.

These efforts have led to the listing down of bald eagles from endangered to threatened in most of the U.S. in 1995, as per Smithsonian. However, threats such as shooting and habitat loss still persist for the country's national bird.

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