Sudha gazed up into the sky, her keen eyes following the far-off black shape as it banked calmly in the persistent breeze. A gust settled it on the ground as it’s flight became labored. After a moment, the breeze picked up, and a strong wind battered Sudha’s face. Taking advantage of the current, the dark shape rose, stuttering upwards until the wind caught its outstretched limbs and took it towards the watching human in a direct line. As it dove low above Sudha’s head, its eagle eyes met hers, its own spirit reflected back at it from below. Whirling, she turned just in time to watch the bird soar upwards, a small prairie dog held in its grasp.
Just like the fictional Sudha, I often see eagles on the prairie where I live in Wyoming. They dip low to catch prairie digs and snakes, and stop to eat carrion on the side of the road. Several of them have regular perches on telephone poles where they watch for prey for hours on end. Eagles live for 30-35 years in the wild, and can fly 30 miles per hour, keeping up with cars in back roads. Like many humans, they mate for life, and use the same nest for many years continuously (State Symbols USA).
Today, June 20, is American Eagle Day. I have chosen to recognize this holiday on this blog, as eagles are an important symbol of freedom in the United States. Whether as a messenger, hunter, healer, leader, or warrior, the eagle played a notable part in many Native American mythologies, and then in modern-day American culture and symbolism.
The bald eagle, specifically, is native to North America, and was adopted as the the national bird symbol of the United States in 1782. It was chosen because of its beauty, strength, and long life, in addition to its native status. Despite this honor, eagles were hunted as vermin for many years, and became endangered for some time. After the Bald Eagle Act was passed in 1940, they began to recover, but were affected negatively by pesticides such as DDT. Now, with DDT banned, bald eagles are no longer on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened (State Symbols USA).
Follow this link to see how you can get recognition for American Eagle Day, and help make it an official holiday: https://www.eagles.org/take-action/american-eagle-day/