As seen during a livestream, Big Bear’s beloved Bald Eagle pair, Jackie and Shadow, have laid two eggs, coinciding with the approach of National Freedom Day on February 1st. The first egg was laid on January 25th, 2024, and the second on the 28th.
Jackie and Shadow have become local celebrities, with their activities and nesting habits being livestreamed to a large audience of eagle enthusiasts.
This event is important as, not so long ago, the American Bald Eagle population was threatened with extinction. However, their status as a symbol of freedom saved them.
A Bird’s Eye View
Bald Eagles are easily identifiable with their brown plumage, white head, and yellow beak. They have an impressive wingspan of 5.11–7.7 ft (1.8–2.3 m) and a top speed of 100 mph (160 km/h).
Clearly not bald, the name of this bird is derived from an old English word, “balde,” meaning white. The Navajo Native Americans call eagles “atsa.”
Native America: Respected and Revered
Long before the Bald Eagle became a symbol of the United States, Native Americans revered this magnificent bird. Many groups viewed the eagle as a messenger between humans and the spirits, and its feathers were seen as a symbol of wisdom, power, and freedom. Further, eagle feathers were often used in garments and in traditional ceremonies.
American Revolution: An Emblem Takes Flight
Fast forward to the American Revolution, and the founding fathers were deciding on a national symbol. Benjamin Franklin suggested the turkey, but it was ultimately decided that the Bald Eagle was a better embodiment of the strength, courage, and freedom of the new, great nation. On June 20, 1782, this bird became America’s national emblem.
With its sharp gaze and powerful wings, the eagle symbolizes the resilience and independence of the United States. Its image began to grace coins, seals, and government buildings, becoming a ubiquitous symbol of American freedom.
Furthermore, any successful arrival or mission accomplished is famously referred to as “the eagle has landed.”
Bald Eagle Threatened
Like too many other species, the Bald Eagle population has been threatened with extinction. In the mid-20th century, habitat destruction and pesticides like DDT caused a decline in eagle populations. However, in a spirited display of unity and resolve, the nation rallied to protect its winged emblem. Conservation efforts took flight, and laws like the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act provided a lifeline. Miraculously, the Bald Eagle population soared once again.
Today, the Bald Eagle stands not only as a symbol of American freedom, but also as a testament to the nation’s commitment to preserving its natural heritage.