We almost lost the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), our national bird, symbol of our country, in the 1950s, because of the widespread use of the pesticide DDT. Then in 1962, Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, made people aware of what was happening, not just to the eagles, but to many other birds and wildlife.
Ten years later, DDT was banned in the U. S. and the bald eagle was put on the newly created Endangered Species List. By that time, the eagles had disappeared from the Channel Islands off the coast of California.
This is the story of their return.
Habitat conservation and reintroduction efforts like the program at the Channel Islands have helped the recovery of the bald eagles. They were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.
The Dalliance of Eagles
by Walt Whitman
Skirting the river road, (my forenoon walk, my rest,)
Skyward in air a sudden muffled sound, the dalliance of the eagles,
The rushing amorous contact high in space together,
The clinching interlocking claws, a living, fierce, gyrating wheel,
Four beating wings, two beaks, a swirling mass tight grappling,
In tumbling turning clustering loops, straight downward falling,
Till o’er the river pois’d, the twain yet one, a moment’s lull,
A motionless still balance in the air, then parting, talons loosing,
Upward again on slow-firm pinions slanting, their separate diverse flight,
She hers, he his, pursuing.
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
The American Bald Eagle is a sea eagle, related to the White-Tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) that inhabits the coastal areas of the United Kingdom, especially the rugged shoreline of Scotland. In Scots Gaelic, the White Tail is called eye Iolaire sùil na grèine,
‘the eagle with the sunlit eye.’
It also seems a fitting description of their American cousins in the Channel Islands.
- “The Dalliance of Eagles” by Walt Whitman —
- “The Eagle” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson —
- Photo of Bald Eagle fishing from Raging Life Photos
- Bald Eagle courtship
- Bald Eagles fighting
- Map of the Channel Islands