Last week on Avian Beauty, I talked about the role of owls in our culture. This week, it’s the eagle’s turn.
Whether it’s music, the written word or our national symbol, the eagle is a much beloved figure in popular culture.
Bette Middler sang of eagles as the wing beneath her wings. Singer-songwriter John Denver wrote and performed a song about an eagle and a hawk. An American rock band is even named The Eagles.
And while every state in the United States of America has its own official bird, the bald eagle soars high above them all, representing the United States of America. Images of the iconic raptor can be found everywhere, from coins and paper currency to passports and the president’s official seal.
The bald eagle was partly chosen because of its association with authority and statehood in fact, the eagle had been used as a symbol of governmental power since Roman times.
The USA’s first official use of the bald eagle was on the one-cent coin issued in Massachusetts in 1776.
Not only is the eagle a national symbol, but a religious symbol too.
In Christian art, the eagle often represents the resurrection of Christ. It is the artistic symbol of the Gospel of St. John, perhaps because that text is lofty in it theological perspective, and it is one of the four animal symbols seen by the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 1:10.
In the book of the prophet Isaiah, we read, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
It’s not just modern religions – the eagle prominently appears in many ancient religions. It was sacred to the Greek god Zeus, to the Sumerians and to the Egyptians.
If you aren’t convinced that the bald eagle is extremely important to Americans, I’ll leave you with this. At least two acts of Congress make it a potential crime to possess even a single unauthorized feather. Bald eagles are a special part of our lives here in America. Are there other avian species that are special to Americans? Tune in next week to find out.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Avian Beauty. Thanks for listening.
Be sure to visit avianbeauty.com for more bird inspiration and information and please consider subscribing (for free) to our blog and podcast. I’m Scott Bourne. Happy birding.
If you’d like to show your appreciation for this site, please consider the purchase of prints or gifts featuring Scott’s bird art, visit scottbourne.photos for more information.
Scott Bourne is an Olympus Visionary, a professional bird/wildlife photographer, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He is a pioneer in digital photography and was named one of the “30 most influential photographers on the Web” by Huffington Post. His photographic experience spans four decades and his bird/wildlife images have been published in more than 200 magazines and periodicals. He is also a Signed Master at Studio of Masters in China.
Scott has been a founder, co-founder, advisor or early stage investor in several technology companies such as NetRadio, Photofocus, and ViewBug.