Animal World


When was the bald eagle adopted as the national bird of the United States?

On June 20, 1782, the citizens of the newly independent United States of America adopted the bald or “American” eagle as their national emblem. At first the heraldic artists depicted a bird that could have been a member of any of the larger species, but by 1902, the bird portrayed on the seal of the United States of America had assumed its proper white plumage on the head and tail. The choice of the bald eagle was not unanimous; Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) preferred the wild turkey. Oftentimes a tongue-in-cheek humorist, Franklin thought the turkey a wily but brave, intelligent, and prudent bird. He viewed the eagle on the other hand as having “a bad moral character” and “not getting his living honestly,” preferring instead to steal fish from hardworking fishhawks. He also found the eagle a coward that readily flees from the irritating attacks of the much smaller kingbird.


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