The following was originally posted in the October 2011 issue of Nature Notes, Heartland Outdoor School’s newsletter:

The Bald Eagle is our national bird and symbolizes grace, beauty, and majesty. With the bird’s bright white head and tail, dark brown body, and yellow eyes, beak, and feet, the Bald Eagle is one of the most recognizable species of wildlife in the nation.

Bald Eagles flourished throughout North America until the mid-20th century. In the 18th century there were around 500,000 of these raptors, but by 1950 that number dropped down to just 412 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states. By 1979 there were only 4 known nesting pairs in all of Ohio. The nation was on the verge of witnessing the extinction of its national symbol.

With the passing of the 1940 Bald Eagle Protection Act and the placing of the Bald Eagle on the endangered species list in 1967, the population has been rising exponentially. It was relisted as threatened in 1995, and by 2007 it was officially delisted. Although it has been delisted, the Bald Eagle is still protected as our national symbol. In Ohio alone the number of nesting pairs has risen to 215 with over 100 new eaglets born every year. See if you can spot a local nest and have fun watching a Bald Eagle!