The bald eagle has been the national bird of the United States since 1787. It symbolizes the power and strength of government and was chosen for its majestic beauty, strength and longevity.
Native to North America, bald eagles are large birds with wingspans as wide as 7 feet. They are carnivores that feed on fish, small mammals, waterfowl and carrion. In 1787 when the eagle was first adopted as the national emblem for the United States, the bald eagle population numbered between 25,000 and 75,000, but as civilization encroached upon the eagles' nesting territory and food supplies, their numbers dwindled. For a time, they were listed and protected as endangered species. Fortunately, due in large part to environmental laws that banned the use of the chemical DDT, the eagle population made a comeback, and the species was relabeled as "threatened" in 2000.