The American national bird is the Bald Eagle. The US National Bird, the bald eagle was chosen as the emblem of the United States of America on 20 June 1782. It was chosen because of its strength, majestic looks, and long life. It was believed that the bird existed only in the American continent. Once the nation was formed, it was the Founding fathers who were looking for a national bird. They had some trouble settling on it until the Congress party drew an eagle to represent them. The sheer beauty of the bald eagle was synonymous with the country’s pride and beauty and was chosen as the national bird.
What Is the National Bird of USA?
The Bald Eagle was chosen to represent the country because of its majestic looks. Though not bald, the bald eagle got its name from the word “blade” which is an old English word for the color white. The eagle got its name from the luscious white feathers that it had on its body rather than from the lack of it. With over 60 species of eagles found globally, only two kinds are found in the USA and Canada. With its thick mop of white feathers, the bald eagle is distinguishable and represents the character of the United States of America.
Images of this iconic bird can be found everywhere, passports, paper currency, coins, and even the President’s official seal.
Why Is Bald Eagle United States’ National Bird?
Wondering why the Bald Eagle bird is the national symbol of US? According to history and legend, the idea germinated when in 1782, an eagle was drawn to represent the newly-formed Congress. It was proposed to connote it as the national bird, and an olive branch and arrows ( that represent peace and war) were added to the eagle’s talons. It was officially adopted as the emblem in 1787.
The eagle has been chosen to represent the state authority and government power since Roman times. Its association with authority and statehood led to it being chosen as the national bird of the United States of America.
The fierce beauty and independent attitude of the great bald eagle bird led it to be chosen to symbolize the strength and freedom of the United States of America.
USA’s National Bird (Bald Eagle) Facts for Kids
Bald eagles are well known for their flying skills, hunting tactics, pride, and independent streak. Here are some fun bald eagle facts and information for children.
- Appearance: Although called ‘bald’ eagles, the bird is far from being bald. The name is derived from the old English word “blade” which means “White-headed”. They are known for their white head and tails and brown bodies. Female bald eagles are bigger than male bald eagles and have sharp claws and hooked beaks. They are also called talons.
- Habitat: The bald eagle lives in North America, mainly in Canada and also in northern parts of Mexico. They are generally found in places with large water bodies (coastal pinelands, rivers, lakes, and wet prairies). They live near water bodies that are surrounded by tall trees for their food and building their nests. They are not very picky about the kind of water bodies, but they prefer tall trees that can support their gigantic nests. One of the largest nests found was about 10 feet wide and over 20 feet deep.
- Food habits: Bald eagles are carnivores which means they eat meat and only that. Fish is their main diet, and they eat the kind of fish that is available in water bodies. Since they have sharp claws and pointed talons, they can dive easily into the water, scoop the fish and catch them alive. They also snatch fish from animals that have hunted them. Bald eagles also feed on squirrels, geese, ducks, raccoons, and rabbits.
- Hunting techniques: Bald eagles are excellent fliers and use their speed to catch up with the prey. They glide through the air at about 40 miles per hour and dive into the water at 100 miles per hour. They catch their prey completely off-guard with the clasp of their sharp talons. Their grip is ten times stronger than the humans, making it easy for them to carry fish that weigh equal to them. They rarely hunt animals that are heavier than them.
- Conservation facts: Bald eagles were an endangered species until 1783. There were only about 25000 to 75000 eagles in the USA. Only 800 eagles remained by 1963. Congress then passed a law in 1940 that made it illegal to hunt, capture or kill a bald eagle. Congress also banned DDT; a pesticide used to kill birds, frogs, and other animals. Today the species is not endangered anymore.
- Life span: The bald eagle lives up to 30-35 years.
- Mating habits: Both the male and female bald eagles mate for life. Both the father and mother incubate the eggs and look after the chicks. They guard them diligently against predators. When the chicks are small, the eagles hover over them with their talons balled into fists to avoid any predator from harming them.
- Nesting patterns: Bald eagles build huge nests with their mates, and they last for life. Over time the nests become huge, reaching a diameter of 10 feet and can weigh as heavy as 2 tons.
- Scientific name: The scientific name for the bald eagle is Haliaeetus leucocephalus.
- Key physical features: The average length of the bird is approximately 1 meter in height and 2.3 meters in wingspan.
- When it was chosen as the National Bird: The bald eagle became the officially nominated national bird of the United States of America in 1787 after the Congress party drew an eagle to represent them. The image was further tweaked to add an olive branch and arrow representing peace and war.
Once the United States of America became a nation, the Founding fathers wanted to decide on a national emblem. After a lot of deliberation, the bald eagle was chosen as the national bird owing to its strength and dignity. The United States of America still considers the bald eagle to be its national bird, and it has its presence on almost everything American.