You may recall as a young child hearing the tall tale about Benjamin Franklin recommending to the Continental Congress in 1782 that the turkey, rather than the bald eagle, be made the official symbol or mascot of the United States of America.
Not true. Although, according to History.com, a couple years after the eagle was adopted by America (mostly on the wings of Charles Thomson and William Barton) Franklin did write a letter to his daughter saying that the chosen bird was “of bad moral character”.
Maybe the ghost of Franklin’s ire explains why, despite the majestic winged creatures representing the U.S. in almost every facet possible, the country has been — intentionally or not — incredibly cruel to the them.
This from History.com:
In the late-1800s, the country was home to 100,000 nesting bald eagles, but the number of birds soon dwindled due to such factors as habitat destruction and hunting. In 1940, Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act, making it illegal to possess, kill or sell the birds. A new new threat arose when they began eating prey contaminated with DDT, a pesticide that came into wide use following World War II. In the 1960s, there were only around 400 breeding pairs left in the continental U.S., and in 1978 the bald eagle was put on the endangered species list. Thanks to federal protections as well as regulations involving DDT, in 1995 the bald eagle population had recovered enough for the bird’s status to be changed from endangered to threatened, and in 2007 it was removed completely from the list.
Americans might have almost wiped bald eagles off the map for all eternity, but made it right — and just in the nick of time.
If they hadn’t the following video never would’ve existed. But it does, and it’s fascinating, as a bunch of people in a Seattle neighborhood gather around a bunch of bald eagles after they tried desperately to knock on the door.