- Padfoot the Painting Ocelot
- Unique jaguar makes public debut
- Jaguar gets new smile thanks to Valley team
- Rhinoceros Hornbill Chick
- New Jaguar on Exhibit!
- Zoo Babies! Black Footed Ferrets
- Positive Effects for Andean Bears
- Learn More About Phoenix Zoo Animals
- Budgett's Frog
- Poison Dart Frogs
- Patagonian Cavy
- All About the Desert Tortoise
- The Turkey Vulture
- Meet the Phoenix Zoo Meerkat Family
- The American Bald Eagle, Our Nation's Symbol
- Ruppell's Griffon Vulture Facts
- Facts About the Common Raven
- Undulated and Laced Moray Eels and the Coral Reef
- Giant Vietnamese Centipede
- The Phoenix Zoo's Asian Elephants
- When It Comes to Bird Beaks, Size Does Matter
- Petting Zoo at Harmony Farm
- Wild Dogs
- My Arts Community
The American Bald Eagle, Our Nation's Symbol
The Bald Eagle, our nation's symbol, was officially declared the National Emblem of the United States by the Second Continental Congress in 1782. On the backs of our gold coins, the silver dollar, the half dollar and the quarter, we see an eagle with outspread wings. The eagle represents freedom. Living as he does on the peaks of superior mountains, amid the solitary grandeur of nature, he has unlimited freedom.
It is said the eagle was used as a national emblem after the noise from the first battles of the Revolution that awoke the sleeping eagles on the heights as flew from their nests and circled about over the heads of the fighting men, all the while giving vent to their raucous cries.
Historically, the Bald eagle was found in all 50 states except Hawaii. Their population numbers were estimated at 300, 000 to 500, 000 birds in the early 1700s. In the late 19th century, it gradually became obvious that nesting populations were being seriously reduced across the country. Land development destroyed habitat as settlers moved into the wild, remote realm of the Bald eagle, and the suitability of both breeding and wintering areas was seriously degraded. Mortality from trapping and shooting, especially as firearms became more numerous and efficient, accelerated the precipitous decline.
In the 20th century a new, more serious threat appeared. Decimation of Bald eagle populations by pesticides and other environmental contaminants was far more insidious than anything biologists had yet witnessed. By the mid 1960's, the decline in breeding Bald eagles exceeded 50 percent in some areas and approached 100 percent in extreme cases. In addition, nesting failures of 55 percent to 96 percent were found for the remaining nesting pairs.
Protection for the Bald eagle came slowly. It was not until 1940, when the Bald Eagle Act was signed, and the killing of Bald eagles in the lower 48 states was prohibited. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 created additional framework for future protection of the bald eagle and its habitat and provided for fines of $10, 000 to $20, 000 and or imprisonment of one to two years for the killing or sale of Bald eagles. The Bald eagle was also listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1978 in 43 states (including Arizona) and threatened in five others.
Bald eagle conservation in Arizona is a prime example of a successful, cooperative environmental management effort. Arizona is home to almost the entire population of desert nesting Bald eagles in the United States. The eagles live along rivers and lakes in the upper Sonoran desert. In 1988, less than 30 nesting pairs lived in Arizona. Today, that population has expanded to 43 nesting pairs in 2006.