Earth Words

A bald eagle is the symbol of American strength and determination.

June/July 2004
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The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is unique to North America and was once widespread.
Photo courtesy Fotolia/garytog

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The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is unique to North America and was once widespread. In 1782, when it was chosen as our national bird, there were as many as 100,000 eagles in what would become the lower 48 states and 300,000 throughout North America. Then, habitat destruction and widespread use of the pesticide DDT pushed the bald eagle toward extinction, with only 417 breeding pairs remaining in the lower 48 states in 1963. Thanks to a national conservation and recovery effort, that population has now rebounded to more than 7,000 pairs.

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