• The Bald Eagle: An American Symbol

    After the United States became a nation, the Founding Fathers wanted to choose a national emblem. The task was more difficult than they probably expected. Some people suggested the eagle. Benjamin Franklin disagreed because many other countries had previously chosen the eagle as their emblem. Franklin also said that eagles didn’t represent integrity because they steal food from other animals.

    Famous American Monuments - Image of Washington Monument
    Famous American Monuments – Image of Washington Monument

    Fun Facts

    • In 1782, the Founding Fathers chose the bald eagle as our national emblem. Bald eagles live only in North America and they represent strength and dignity.
    • For many years, bald eagles were endangered. In 1783, there were between 25,000 and 75,000 eagles in the U.S. By 1963, only 800 eagles remained. In 1940, Congress passed a law making it illegal to capture or kill a bald eagle. In 1973, Congress banned the use of DDT, a pesticide that was known to kill birds, frogs, and other animals. 
    • Today, the bald eagle has made a comeback. Bald eagles are no longer endangered.
    • Wild bald eagles live 30 to 35 years. They have a wingspan of up to 7 feet and can fly up to 35 miles per hour. 
    • Fish is a main food source for eagles. They also eat small mammals or even snakes.
    • Bald eagles mate for life. Both the mother and father incubate the eggs and take care of the chicks.


    1.  Emblem:  an object or animal that represents a country, organization, or family
    2.  Dignity:  a sense of self-respect, nobility, or pride
    3.  Endangered:  at risk of becoming extinct

    Questions and Answers

    Question:  What emblems have other countries chosen to represent them?

    Answer:  Many countries have chosen animals or flowers that are special to their country as emblems. Australia’s emblem is the kangaroo; Ireland’s emblem is the shamrock; and India’s emblem is the peaco-ck. You can see our national emblem, the bald eagle, on our money, as well as the Presidential seal.

    Learn More

    Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to learn more about how the bald eagle became our national emblem.


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