“Jenn, you’re early for coffee today, but come on in,” I called out as I saw Jenn walking toward my side door. I was glad to see her as I always am when she stops by for coffee. “Rosemary, it’s the Fourth of July weekend. I was afraid you wouldn’t be home,” Jenn said. I replied to Jenn that I had been gone earlier in the week but planned to stay home for the Fourth. My little dog, Betsy, is sometimes scared of the noise of fireworks so I wanted to be with her. She helped me finish the coffee and tea and we went out back to sit on the deck. We wanted to have a nice, long chat and morning brew.
“You’ll never believe what I saw as I drove up your mountain road,” Jenn said. “I saw a bald eagle sitting in the top of a tree along the road! The road rose up right at that spot and I was almost as high as the eagle and got a really good look. I didn’t think many bald eagles were around any more.”
“Oh, Jenn,” I said. “There are a few bald eagles around here now and many across the country.” That’s the way our #weekendcoffeeshare chat started today.
There is a big, wild lake close by where I live and nesting pairs of bald eagles have been spotted there. I told Jenn that there is one tree, probably the one she saw, along our mountain road, where I have also seen a bald eagle, probably one of those nesting pairs of birds. The bald eagle is a success story because it has been brought back from near extinction. By 2007, it was actually taken off the endangered species list.
It’s appropriate to talk about the bald eagle this Fourth of July weekend since it is America’s national bird. “Jenn, I said,” “Bald eagles are the only eagle that exists only in North America. But, we almost killed them off largely because we used DDT, an insecticide. This chemical caused damage to the eggs of the eagle. The eagle’s habitat was also damaged when the original forests were removed. The birds that the bald eagle eats were hunted and killed off. They had no food supply. Bald eagles were even shot because farmers thought they threatened their livestock.”
Jenn asked,”So, what happened to save the bald eagle?”
I replied, “First, we banned the DDT insecticide which went a long way toward protecting the bald eagle. Shooting them was also banned. When they were considered an endangered species, we protected their nesting sites and, in most places, still do. Their nests are used year after year by the eagles and weigh, sometimes, up to 4,000 pounds. As our pollution control laws took effect and our water quality improved, we started seeing more bald eagles. By 2007, there were enough so they were taken off the endangered species list. They are still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the MIgratory Bird Treaty Act.”
Jenn said, “I’ve heard of bald eagles sometimes nesting in suburban neighborhoods.” “Yes,” I said. “From what I understand, there are so many now, they are competing for territory. The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife sometimes find them injured by other bald eagles because of this problem. In 1963, there were only 487 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the U.S. By 2006, there were over 9700.”
I said to Jenn, “Many people don’t realize that bald eagles are powerful, big, and that they are birds of prey. They are meat-eating birds. They usually live near lakes. They fish, eat roadkill, and steal the kills of other birds. Bald eagles can weigh up to about 14 pounds with a wing span of six to eight feet. They have been known to swoop down and pick up small dogs and cats out of backyards.”
The bald eagle has been America’s national symbol since 1782. The bald eagle had been seen as a sign of strength since ancient Rome. It started appearing on flags, documents, and gradually became associated with America and its spirit and strength.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I hope you get to see a bald eagle! #writing #amwriting #blogging #FourthofJuly
*Image provide by therightclicks at Creative Commons