The Bald Eagle was chosen in 1782 as the emblem of the United States because of the animal’s majestic appearance, strength, and long life.

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However, this bird always has had its critics. Even Benjamin Franklin famously complained that it was ”a rank coward” of “bad moral character.” Nonetheless, we suspect that most of the Bald Eagle’s critics have never carefully watched one soaring on its seven-foot wingspan high above a river, then banking severely, spiraling down fast in smaller and smaller circles, pulling up to skim the water, thrusting its talons straight out at the last moment, and plucking its prey with a splashy “thwack!”

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(Brooklin, Maine) [The above text and first image first appeared yesterday as my monthly ITRP column in the Ellsworth American, the award-winning weekly newspaper of Hancock County, Maine.]

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