If you wish to see the national symbol of the United States for real, there’s no time like the present. However, not many are aware of the fact that the bird has changed in time. Once living in the deep forests, now bald eagles have started to cohabitate with humans, even in large cities.
As scientists have pointed out, this change in behaviour is the consequence of protection laws that greatly helped the species to recover in the 1960s. Back then, the bald eagle was almost extinct, but with the help of humans, it managed to recover.
The U.S. national symbol is protected by the government itself, which has the right to prosecute anyone who makes himself responsible for the death of such a bird, no matter if it happened intentionally or not. At the moment, an investigation is conducted to find the culprits for the deaths of no less than thirteen eagles found near a farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Bald eagles have gradually come closer to human settlements, building their nests in gardens, parks, or even in front of the yards of people, which is quite a change from fifty years ago. The birds have been spotted in urban locations, such as Washington, New York, Miami, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the East Coast.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the species was removed from the list of endangered ones in 2007, after its numbers surged from 487 breeding pairs in 1963 to about 9,789 in 2006 across 48 contiguous states. At the moment, the highest populated regions are the Chesapeake Bay, Florida, Yellowstone, the Great Lakes, Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
As a result, urban and suburban areas that are close to waterways have become increasingly appealing for bald eagles, mainly because the bird does not see humans as predators anymore. The National Arboretum located in Northeast Washington, the Beltway and the Ronald Reagan National Airport seem to be perfect homes for a couple of the eagles.
However, New Jersey’s eagle project leader, Kathleen Clark, believes that we should not think that all bald eagles have become fearless of humans. There are still many specimens which prefer to live isolated from people. Furthermore, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recommended people to avoid disturbing their nests.
In the end, the rehabilitation and return of the national symbol of the United States is truly one if not the greatest story of success of the country, standing as one of the rare moments when us humans managed to successfully change the outcome of an entire species and ensure its survival.
Image Source: Flickr