This time of year, attention turns to turkeys, a national meal that Benjamin Franklin proposed as the national symbol. But it would be wise to also be thankful for the bird that actually became the symbol, the American Bald Eagle.
The N&O’s Outdoors correspondent, Jim Lasley, reported this week on the eagles’ comeback in North Carolina. The grand birds were pushed to the edge of extinction in the mid-20th century by hunting, habitat loss and DDT contamination.
Thanks to careful conservation and a ban on DDT, the birds are flourishing in the United States and gaining in North Carolina. There are an estimated 10,000 nesting pairs in the United States and now about 500 to 1,000 eagles in North Carolina, and their numbers are growing.
David Allen, a wildlife diversity supervisor for the state Wildlife Resources Commission, said eagles can be seen in almost every North Carolina county. They’re even sighted in the heavily populated Triangle. The commission has established a bald eagle observation platform at Jordan Lake.
The eagles’ rebound makes the bird not only a symbol but a statement of Americans’ pride in their country and its natural bounty.