To be honest, it’s hard for me not to picture the Eagle from the various Angry Birds movies when I use the name King Eagle. However in reality these birds are much more majestic and regal than the characterization from those movies. They are also very well known. Cornell Lab’s allaboutbirds.org highlights that “the Bald Eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782 and a spiritual symbol for native people for far longer than that.”
Bald Eagles are found throughout much of North America. I remember going on a trip to a river in southern Texas and seeing one as a child, feeling so exhilarated after actually seeing one in the wild. Now, when we go up to the Upper Peninsula we often see Bald Eagles soaring through the air as we are driving in the car, surrounded by the Great Lakes and fresh water in abundance.
Thornton W. Burgess includes King Eagle in the same chapter as Plunger the Osprey. Plunger has just secured himself a fish, after a few missed attempts, and as he flies off with his catch, King Eagle takes it from him. Allaboutbirds.org highlights this tactic:
Rather than do their own fishing, Bald Eagles often go after other creatures’ catches. A Bald Eagle will harass a hunting Osprey until the smaller raptor drops its prey in midair, where the eagle swoops it up. A Bald Eagle may even snatch a fish directly out of an Osprey’s talons. Fishing mammals (even people sometimes) can also lose prey to Bald Eagle piracy.
Had Benjamin Franklin prevailed, the U.S. emblem might have been the Wild Turkey. In 1784, Franklin disparaged the national bird’s thieving tendencies and its vulnerability to harassment by small birds. “For my own part,” he wrote, “I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. … Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District.”allaboutbirds.org
Benjamin Franklin clearly thought on this deeply. Do you feel the same way?
Here is the rest of our gathering for the Bald Eagle:
For more Burgess Birds in Detail, find them here!
Until next time, keep on birding! <3 Kate