Scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Photo: © 2004 Jeffrey Berger
Our national symbol is spectacular to behold. Our own State of Florida has the second highest concentration of bald eagles outside of Alaska.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas taught us that “birds can serve as excellent indicators of the quality of habitat – not just their own, but that of humans who share the land.” It was the consequence of DDT on birds that first alerted us to the dangers of DDT on human communities. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring brought the problem to public attention. DDT alters the calcium metabolism of birds causing thin eggshells, which break under the weight of nesting hens. Thin eggshells lead to years of reproductive failure. Many bird species verged on extinction including our national symbol.
Since the 1972 ban on DDT, the bald eagle has made a remarkable recovery.