Raptors, Center News

American Eagle Day

On June 20, 1782, the Bald Eagle was placed on the official Seal of the United States of America. Chosen for the strength that it symbolizes, the Bald Eagle quickly became the emblem for our country. Found only in North America, the Bald Eagle is an icon of strength, beauty, and perseverance. Nationwide, American Eagle Day is celebrated annually on June 20th to raise awareness of eagle conservation and to celebrate these amazing birds.  

Early Populations in Decline 

In the mid-1900’s, Bald Eagle populations were in decline nationwide. At the time, it was thought that large raptors were predating on livestock and poultry. There were no legal protections for the birds and many raptors were shot as a result. As an added stressor, countries were using a pesticide called DDT. In the environment, this chemical targeted insects, but also worked its way up the food chain and affected apex predators like eagles. Although DDT did not kill the birds directly, it caused an extreme thinning of eggshells and resulted in eggs easily breaking before young birds were developed and hatched.  

By 1963, it was estimated that there were only 417 known nesting pairs of Bald Eagles. Federal regulations that were put into place through the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act made the possession, killing, or selling of eagles and their parts illegal. The species was placed on the Federal Endangered Species list in 1978.  

Protecting the Bald Eagle

In Wisconsin, there were 107 nesting pairs of eagles in 1974. Our state was the first to ban the use of DDT in 1972 and the rest of the country soon followed. Through environmental conservation efforts and the support of federal protections, Bald Eagle populations began to rebound. As a testament to their success, the species was removed from the Endangered Species list in 2007. 

The populations are now estimated to be over 71,000 nesting pairs nationwide. Wisconsin’s Eagle Count held in 2019 found over 1,680 eagle nests in our state. In more recent years, Bald Eagle nests have been confirmed in every Wisconsin county, with Milwaukee County hosting their first ever nest documented in 2022. 

Raptor Program Teaches Conservation

Schlitz Audubon sponsors a state proclamation every year to designate June 20th as American Eagle Day in Wisconsin. Through our Raptor Program, we teach about conservation efforts and provide guests with memorable experiences with birds of prey. Our program travels throughout the state to celebrate eagles and share educational programs at events such as Sauk Prairie’s Bald Eagle Watching Days & Prairie du Chien’s Eagle Appreciation Days. We are honored to care for two non-releasable Bald Eagles in our Raptor Program and share them with the public to inspire further awareness of our wild populations and natural areas.  

Learn more about Glory. | Learn more about Valkyrie.  

Consider symbolically adopting one of our Bald Eagles to support their efforts to bring eagle awareness to communities throughout the state.