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Bald Eagle

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235 years ago today: The Bald Eagle becomes our nation’s symbol

President Ronald Reagan first issued a proclamation for National Bald Eagle Day in 1982 commemorating the 200th anniversary of this majestic creature becoming our nation’s symbol. Man’s stupidity nearly eradicated the eagle from the earth but thankfully we wised up and it has made a miraculous recovery. Now we have the privilege of seeing them regularly and marveling at their beauty. I cannot think of a more fitting creature to symbolize the United States of America. The text of that first proclamation follows:

Proclamation 4893—Bicentennial Year of the American Bald Eagle and National Bald Eagle Day
January 28, 1982

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Whether silhouetted against the sky on a rocky pinnacle in Alaska or soaring majestically overhead in Florida, the bald eagle is admired as one of nature’s most spectacular creatures.

To catch a glimpse of this majestic raptor is to understand why the Founding Fathers chose it to represent the strength and courage of our great Nation. Its grace and power in flight, its vigilance and loyalty in defending its family group, and, most of all, its courage make the eagle a proud and appropriate symbol for the United States. Its presence on the Great Seal of the United States—one talon extending the olive branch of peace, the other brandishing the arrows of defense—is a symbol of friendship and cooperation to our allies and a warning to our adversaries that we are not to be trod upon.

No one is certain what the original United States population of the bird was, although it may have approached 75,000 – 100,000. We do know, however, that its extinction has become a disheartening possibility in recent years.

We have sought to prevent that possibility by restricting the use of certain pesticides. Shooting and habitat destruction are also being brought under control as a result of protection and conservation programs conducted under the Bald Eagle Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Scientists believe we are now beginning to see a subtle but definite population increase through the cooperative efforts of Federal and State fish and wildlife agencies, conservation and industrial groups, scientists, and private citizens. These efforts are truly indicative of the spirit of cooperation and perseverance which is at the very heart of our national character.

On June 20, 1782, the bald eagle became our Nation’s symbol and national bird. As we approach the bicentennial anniversary of that event, we have an excellent opportunity to pause and reflect upon the importance of the bald eagle, indeed of all our fish and wildlife resources, to a healthy America. On this occasion, let us renew our commitment and dedication to the conservation of our natural heritage as symbolized by the bald eagle.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, in accordance with a joint resolution of the Congress (SJ. Res. 121), do hereby proclaim June 20, 1982 as “National Bald Eagle Day” and designate the year 1982 as the “Bicentennial Year of the American Bald Eagle.” I call upon the people of the United States to join in these observances with appropriate activities in their homes and communities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 28th day of January in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixth.

RONALD REAGAN

An American Bald Eagle flies across beautiful blue skies in Colorado. 235 years ago the Bald Eagle became our nation's symbol. (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Bald Eagle flies across beautiful blue skies in Colorado. 235 years ago the Bald Eagle became our nation’s symbol. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bald Eagle launches to defend its territory

Well, this happened quickly. The male Bald Eagle at this nest is not normally pleasant, always making a ruckus anytime anyone or anything comes even remotely close. On this day, a young Bald Eagle dared to intrude on its territory and it was not happy. Fortunate for me, the young one was flying right behind me leading the adult to launch and fly right over me. Taken along the South Platte River north of Denver, Colorado.

A male Bald Eagle launches into the air to defend its territory.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Bald Eagle launches into the air to defend its territory. (© Tony’s Takes)

Delivering the catch of the day

Last weekend I made my first visit in a couple of months to this nest southwest of Denver. This pair of Bald Eagles has two eaglets that are just about ready to fledge. They are nearly as big as their parents and keeping them fed takes a lot of work I am sure.

I was fortunate enough to capture an entire sequence of images of mom as she brought in a good sized fish for them to have for breakfast. I’m really pleased with this image and series as while I have gotten plenty of ‘eagle and fish’ pictures, the fish are usually small or the pics just aren’t that great. This one has to be the best of that type of image I have captured.

As for those two young ones, within a couple of weeks they will be taking that first flight. They will continue to hang out at the nest for a while, learning how to hunt and fish on their own. By the end of summer, they will move on into this great big world alone.

A Bald Eagle returns to its nest with a fish firmly in its talons. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle returns to its nest with a fish firmly in its talons. (© Tony’s Takes)

A panting Bald Eagle?

Something most folks may not know but yes, Bald Eagles (and other birds) do in fact pant. They don’t sweat so panting is a way for them to dissipate heat. It wasn’t particularly hot when this image was taken but the eagle had just returned from a flight and was apparently a bit warm afterwards.

A female Bald Eagle pants after taking a flight on a warm day. (© Tony’s Takes)

A female Bald Eagle pants after taking a flight on a warm day. (© Tony’s Takes)

Putting on the brakes for landing

It is Freedom Friday and let’s start things off with this pic of this beautiful lady as she comes in for a landing. When I first arrived at the nest site this past Sunday, she was pretty upset.

A younger Bald Eagle had stopped by and was circling around. Bald Eagles are usually very sociable to each other – except when they have a nest and are guarding their young. They don’t play around then.

Not appreciating the visitor, she took off in hot pursuit of the interloper, chasing it down the river and out of view.  It didn’t take long and she returned, landing right by her offspring and giving me a nice series of images including this one.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Take time to remember what the Memorial Day holiday is all about. Since our nation’s founding, brave men and women have given their lives in service to this great nation and we are forever indebted to them. Never forget!

A female Bald Eagle comes in for a landing near her nest in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A female Bald Eagle comes in for a landing near her nest in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

An endangered species success story

It is believed that Bald Eagle populations were as high as 500,000 in the lower 48 states before the arrival of Europeans. Adopted as the United States’ national symbol in 1782, there were only about 100,000 by then.

Bald Eagle populations continued to decline in the 1800s due to loss of habitat and a corresponding loss of its prey. It was said to be at the edge of extinction in 1940 and that was followed by the introduction of DDT, a pesticide which further threatened the raptor causing its eggs to have very fragile shells.

By the early 1960s, there were a mere 487 pairs of mated eagles in the lower 48 it was declared an endangered species.

DDT was banned in 1972 and since then the Bald Eagle has made an extraordinary comeback, being removed from the endangered species list in 2007.

These are three different mated pairs of eagles that I have had the the pleasure of photographing just this year.

A Bald Eagle pair shares a perch in Longmont, Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle pair shares a perch in Longmont, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bald Eagle mates form a heart in Weld County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bald Eagle mates form a heart in Weld County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bald Eagle mates hang out on a winter's day in Jefferson County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bald Eagle mates hang out on a winter’s day in Jefferson County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Juvenile Bald Eagle in pursuit of a meal

Why catch your own fish when you can steal one from another eagle? That is pretty standard operating procedure for these big raptors although it seems like they spend more energy trying to steal other eagles’ fish than they would if they just caught their own. 😉 In this image, one juvenile chases another that is trying to escape with its meal. Light was horrible so the quality isn’t what I would hope but it was fun to watch. Taken back on March 3, 2017.

A juvenile Bald Eagle chases another in the hopes of stealing its fish.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Bald Eagle chases another in the hopes of stealing its fish. (© Tony’s Takes)

Mama out for a flight

Mama out for a flight. Taken this past weekend, the female Bald Eagle at my local nest decided to stretch her wings and give me a flyby. Activity that day was really low as record-tying temperatures had arrived and the eagles understandably were choosing to sit tight and try to stay cool.

An American Bald Eagle patrols the clear, blue skies of Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Bald Eagle patrols the clear, blue skies of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Pelicans perform a flyby

Pelicans perform a flyby. While the female Bald Eagle stands guard next to her eaglet, a couple of American White Pelicans circled overhead.

A pair of Pelicans fly overhead as a female Bald Eagle stands watch at her nest. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of Pelicans fly overhead as a female Bald Eagle stands watch at her nest. (© Tony’s Takes)

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