Eagles just came off the endangered species list this year.
Benjamin Franklin did not consider the eagle a worthy bird to have as a national symbol. (He felt warmer toward, of all birds, the turkey.)
Now you might be thinking: I knew both of those things! You didn't learn anything at the National Eagle Center! But what we learned was behind those two statements.
Eagles just came off the endangered species list this year. Those who are about my age or older might remember just why eagles were on the endangered species list in the first place. It was because of a chemical called DDT, commonly used to combat mosquitoes. However, as our guide graphically showed us, DDT had unintended consequences in other parts of the animal kingdom, up to and including eagles. He showed us how mosquitoes are connected to small fish, and small fish are connected to big fish, and big fish are connected to eagles, and how if one link in a chain is damaged, it affects the health of the whole chain. He told us one of the things that DDT did was make eagles' eggs soft and easily broken, so that most eaglets did not survive into adulthood. I didn't write down the numbers, but he said that at least 80% if all eaglets did not survive into adulthood, and eagles were in grave danger of becoming extinct.
He also told us that in 1972, something happened, when people banded together to outlaw DDT and to work to bring the bald eagle back from extinction. Now comes the statement that this year bald eagles came off the endangered species list. He told us that the story of the bald eagle can remind us and inspire us to remember what is possible when we work together for positive change.
Benjamin Franklin did not consider the bald eagle to be a worthy bird to have as a national symbol. There were three reasons for this, but I remember the third one the best. Franklin had observed eagles as they were attacked and dive-bombed by smaller birds like herons and gulls, and saw how the eagle would not engage in a fight, but simply fly away. He thought that the eagle was a coward, and not a fitting symbol for our young nation. However, as our guide told us, the eagle is not a coward, but is honorable in flying away from a fight with a bird clearly not its equal. So, I thought: if you know you are strong, you don't always have to fight.
Two lessons from eagles.
oh, and this piece of trivia: about how much do you think a fully grown bald eagle weighs?
about 10-12 pounds.
Picture is Harriet with handler last Saturday.