Bald Eagle at Scott Arboretum

Bald Eagle at Scott Arboretum

Bald Eagle at Scott Arboretum. photo credit: S. KeitchOn February 4th at approximately 1:30 pm a group of people huddled under the grove of trees between Kohlberg Hall and Trotter Hall with their eyes pointed skywards.  Perched atop the tallest tulip tree was an apparently mature Bald Eagle.  The Bald Eagle, our national bird, is making a comeback in several spots in the U. S.; however, seeing one in many parts of the country is uncommon.  Personally, I have seen the Bald Eagle soaring over Swarthmore or perched on the side of the road along the Blue Route near the Swarthmore exit.

Today, the Bald Eagle population is approximately 70,000 with about half of this population living in Alaska.  Locally, fairly large numbers of eagles can be viewed at the Conowingo Dam in Maryland.  However, eagles can be seen all over the Delaware Valley including places such as the Tyler Arboretum, Philadelphia Naval Yard and the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum.


Bald Eagle soaring over Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College. photo credit: S. Keitch

Bald Eagles were declared an endangered species in 1967 under a law that preceded the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Bald Eagle was listed as endangered in 43 of the 48 lower states.  In July 1995, the endangered status was upgraded to threatened.  On June 28,  2007, the Bald Eagle was officially taken off the Endangered Species List.  However, it is still protected by the Bald Eagle Protection Act.

A bird list of Swarthmore College and the Crum Woods can be accessed by referencing the Conservation and Stewardship Plan for the Crum Woods of Swarthmore College, 2003 in Appendix G: Bird Species in the Crum Woods.

For additional information one of the very best resources for bird related information is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Andrew Bunting
  • Matthew
    Posted at 10:27h, 16 February Reply

    It is great to hear that the Bald Eagle is enjoying the Arboretum. I always enjoy the chance to see one. They are a magnificent bird, large and powerful, and being native to North America are a great symbol of our country.

    I find it interesting that Ben Franklin was not a supporter of the Bald Eagle as our national bird (see excerpt below). It seems he was looking deeper into the nature of the bird.

    What bird would you have nominated for our national bird and emblem?

    The Eagle, Ben Franklin, and the Turkey

    Franklin’s Letter to His Daughter (excerpt)

    “For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

    “With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country . . .

    “I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”


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