Two entries on today's topic, the Bald Eagle . . .
Washington Sea Eagle
John James Audubon
Born: Les Cayes, Haiti 1785
Died: New York, New York 1851
oil on canvas
46 x 33 1/4 in. (116.8 x 84.5 cm.)
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Dr. S. Dillon Ripley II and Mary Livingston Ripley
John James Audubon painted this bird, Sea Eagle / Falco ossifragus [Immature Bald Eagle], for his now-famous work titled The birds of America, which was published in a double-elephant format (39 in. tall x 26 in. wide) between the years 1827 and 1838. He first saw the bird in February 1814, while travelling with a Canadian fur-trader on the Upper Mississippi River. It is a male Bald Eagle in immature plumage, but Audubon believed it to be a separate species and named it in honor of the country’s first president, calling it the Bird of Washington, or the Washington Sea Eagle.
The Libraries holds the National Audubon Society’s copy of the work on deposit, along with both the Abbeville (1985) and the Theatrum Orbus Terrarum (1971-72) full-sized facsimile editions and several smaller (octavo) editions.
June 20th: American Eagle Day
This hand-colored print, etched by Robert Havell from John J. Audubon's drawing for his double-elephant folio Birds of America (London, 1827-1838), captures the majestic presence of the United States' national bird, the bald eagle. The bald eagle became the symbol of the United States on June 20, 1782 during the Second Continental Congress when its likeness was selected as part of the Great Seal of the United States of America.
On May 27, 2010, a resolution sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to designate June 20, 2010 as "American Eagle Day" was passed by Unanimous Consent. The observance celebrates the iconic species' recovery from near extinction.
The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is an apt choice as a symbol for our nation, as it is the only eagle unique to the North American continent. Once on the brink of extinction, the birds were officially declared an endangered species in 1967. After decades of aggressive conservation efforts to protect the birds, the U.S. Department of the Interior took the bald eagle off the endangered species list on June 28, 2007. The birds will continue to benefit from legislative protections such as the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.