This day is set aside to honor our national symbol – the bald eagle.
Founded in 1985, the American Eagle Foundation (AEF), is dedicated to caring for and protecting bald eagles and other birds of prey through education, re-population, conservation, and rehabilitation. To attract national attention to their cause, AEF established "American Eagle Day," which is observed on the 20th of June.
The date is significant as it commemorates the date that the Continental Congress adopted the American bald eagle as our national bird and symbol, on June 20, 1782. Chosen for its long life, great strength, and majestic looks, the bald eagle symbolizes the United States' freedom, courage, strength, spirit, and excellence.
Courtesy of Instagram
President Ronald Reagan declared June 20, 1982, "National Bald Eagle Day," and designated 1982 as the Bicentennial Year of the American Bald Eagle; however, this was a one-time observance. On June 20, 1995, President Bill Clinton and then Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist each recognized the first official American Eagle Day. Since then, governors from 49 states have signed gubernatorial proclamations identifying American Eagle Day in their states. AEF is diligently working to get to 100 percent and make American Eagle Day a recognized national day.
Unfortunately, it seems that what our Founding Fathers intended and saw in the American bald eagle, we seem to have forgotten. It wasn’t that long ago, in 1978, that the bald eagle was listed on the endangered species list due to the effects of pesticides, destruction of natural habitats, and hunting. Despite Congress passing the Bald Eagle Protection Act in 1940, which makes it illegal to possess, kill, or sell the bald eagles, and is now known as The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, this is still happening. Even though, in 1995, the bald eagle's status changed from endangered to threatened and in 2007, was removed completely from the list, this could easily happen again.
As recently as three months ago, states and federal agencies have reported the deaths of dozens of bald eagles and other wildlife being killed on the Eastern Shore of Maryland due to the irresponsible use of a banned pesticide. Horrifying photos are showing up on the internet, where bald eagles have been found senselessly shot. With new construction, the bald eagles' natural habitats are again, being destroyed.
I had the honor of living across the lake from two nesting bald eagles, and I loved watching them soar through the air. I didn’t enjoy watching them dive for the ducks and fish so much, but witnessing their graceful splendor was breathtaking. Unfortunately, due to the development of homes, the trees in which they nested were chopped down,and they were displaced. It was heartbreaking to lose “my” bald eagles.
Courtesy of Virginia Wildlife
What You Can Do to Observe American Eagle Day
- Educate Yourself: Study up on the bald eagle. Trust me, once you learn about our nation’s symbol, you’re sure to fall in love and do whatever you can to help in their preservation. Learn and spread the word.
- Watch a Bald Eagle Nest Cam: Eagle Cams live-stream a peek into the lives of the bald eagles. It’s not only fascinating to watch, but educational as well. Below are several:
- Visit a Zoo, Sanctuary, or Refuge: American Eagle Day is a great excuse for a visit the National Zoo, which houses bald eagles. Also, the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service has 13 suggestions of great places to see bald eagles on national wildlife refuges; click here for the locations.
- Volunteer and Donate: Offer to help local preservation groups. Write letters to your governor, the president, and Congress to have American Eagle Day declared as a national day. Share photographs of what you did on social media and hashtag #americaneagleday. “Adopt” a bald eagle at the National Zoo. Donate to the American Eagle Foundation. This not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization is responsible for American Eagle Day; click here for all that they do and the many ways that you can support this extraordinary organization. And don't forget, your donations are tax-deductible.
Eaglets (Courtesy of The American Eagle Foundation)
However you choose to observe American Eagle Day this Thursday, June 20, the important thing is to just do it, get your children involved, spread the word, and make it factual and fun. Knowledge is a powerful weapon, and you can make every day American Eagle Day.