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The Bald Eagle is Overrated | Why is the Bald Eagle the national symbol for the US?

I know what you're thinking. Are these people flocking around? Trust me, you need to read to the end...

Bald Eagles are just feathered vultures
Bald Eagle aka Glorified Vulture

Before you find some weird level of hostility toward us for the facts we are about to present to you, please consider joining our flock!

The Bald Eagle was selected as the national emblem of the United States in 1782. In a famous myth, Benjamin Franklin argued against Congress selecting this bird by offering the Wild Turkey as an alternative. The truth is even funnier, as Benjamin Franklin described the Bald Eagle on the Great Seal as appearing to be a turkey. And while the Wild Turkey might seem like a joke of a national emblem, the Bald Eagle is not much more dignified.

Before we propose a new emblem for the United States, let's learn a little more about the Bald Eagle and its indecorums.

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Bald Eagle Range

Bald Eagle Range Map
Bald Eagle Range Map

The Bald Eagle ranges across most of North America. They are fairly common throughout Alaska, Canada, and the lower 48 states. There are few to no records in Hawaii. The extensive range is a plus for representing the US, but not being a regular species in Hawaii definitely loses the Bald Eagles some points as our bird representative.


If you want to take photos of this... symbol, we recommend a proper zoom camera.


Bald Eagle Fossil Record

The Bald Eagle has been found in sites that date to prehistoric times. You may think that a species established for over a million years is a positive point for recognition, but I'm going to play devil's advocate and say it is NOT. When you are choosing a car, do you want an old, rusty automobile? No! You want that new, upgraded model with the heated seats. And trust me, the species we are going to recommend at the end of this post has all the bells, horns, and whistles.

Bald Eagle Habitat

Bald Eagles typically nest in mature forests with some habitat edge. Okay, that IS a positive point for recognition. Who does not love the forest for the trees? However, the Bald Eagle typically prefers to nest in areas with minimal human disturbance and development. Booo! We want a national symbol that wants to hang out with humans! Humans are the best! We are way too cool for the Bald Eagle.


Now, for the true testament to the illegitimacy of the Bald Eagle and its unsavory behavior(s).

Bald Eagle Behavior

There are two behaviors the Bald Eagle exhibits that detract from its supposed prowess:

  1. Aggression - Bald Eagles rarely engage in aggressive physical contact. Most aggression is displayed through vocalizations and visual displays. Is that how you want to be represented? By a bird that is not willing to "throw down?" Not I, says this guy.

  2. Courtship: When Bald Eagles engage in courtship displays, they often lock their talons and cartwheel toward the earth from great altitudes. Seriously. They try to impress each other by "sky dancing." Why don't they flex their wing muscles, catcall, and swipe right? Ridiculous.

Own your own Bald Eagle. But why would you want to?