Monday, July 02, 2007

The Bald Eagle Flies High

American conservation authorities have gone ahead with their plans (see earlier post) to take the bald eagle off the Endangered Species List. This is not just a conservation success, but an emotional lift to everyone concerned with the environment. A nation that could not save its national symbol might as well give up on saving anything else.

In the "interesting footnote" department, John James Audubon consistently held that the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was distinct from a larger, solid brown bird found along the shores of the eastern U.S., which he formally named Falco washintonii. He credited his type specimen (now lost, alas) with a wingspan of 3.1 meters. The "Bird of Washington" or "Washington's Eagle" was most likely an abnormally large bald eagle in the juvenile stage (before the white head feathers appear), but we will probably never be sure.

No comments: