June 20 is National American Eagle Day—a day to celebrate the magnificent Bald Eagle. This raptor became the emblem of our nation in 1782, but in the 20th century hunting combined with pesticides, especially toxic DDT, caused Bald Eagle numbers to plummet. By 1963, there were only 417 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states.
In 1972, DDT was banned in the United States, and a year later it was banned in Canada. This new law made all the difference for Bald Eagles. Paired with strong conservation and monitoring programs by the National Audubon Society and other organizations, our national bird began to recover. A count in 2021 estimated more than 316,000 Bald Eagles now live in the lower 48 states—an incredible recovery!
The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey is home to five Bald Eagles. Females Hali and Tallulah live together on exhibit. Tallulah is a famous eagle! As a young bird, she wore a radio transmitter and was tracked on her migration all the way to Canada and back to Florida. A subsequent territory fight resulted in an injury that landed her at the Center.
The Center for Birds of Prey is also home to three education eagles: Paige, Trouble, and Francis. Center staff and volunteers note that Paige is the calmest eagle. Despite her neurological problems (caused by the avian pox that brought her to the Center), she enjoys resting on one leg in the garden, calmly observing the visitors and other birds. Paige is the Center’s largest eagle at a whopping 10 pounds. Trouble is true to his name; he is the chattiest of the eagles, often calling as people walk by. He loves to take baths and relishes being misted by the hose on a warm day. Trouble is easily identified by his crossed beak, the congenital defect that brought him to the Center. Francis is fussy about his human friends, but he remembers them for many years. Francis was brought in as a two-day-old eaglet and was hand-raised by Center staff.
Each Bald Eagle at the Center for Birds of Prey is unique—like those in the wild. Though Bald Eagles were officially taken off the Endangered Species List in 2007, their struggle for survival is not over. Climate change could severely limit the usable habitat for the species, as well as reducing prey abundance. We can ensure our nation’s symbol remains soaring through our skies by acting to reduce climate change and by supporting organizations like Audubon.
To visit the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey eagles, click here.