As the bald eagle makes a miraculous comeback in the United States, an author reveals that humans have “redeemed themselves”

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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jack E. Davis pays well-deserved attention to America’s greatest symbol of freedom in his new book, “The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird.”

The book takes a long and searing “flight” into the cultural and natural history of the bald eagle, including the bird’s evolution from an invasive to an endangered species.

Davis, a professor of environmental history at the University of Florida, caught up with Fox News Digital at the recent Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

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The author said he felt it was “a good time” to shine a light on the bald eagle because there has been such a major resurgence of the species across the country.

Author Jack E. Davis, a professor at the University of Florida, holds a bald eagle. He told Fox News Digital, “We are seeing eagles today in numbers and frequencies that we did not see 10, 15, certainly not 20 years ago.”
(Jack E. Davis)

“We are seeing eagles today in numbers and frequency that we did not see 10, 15, certainly not 20 years ago,” he said.

Davis said the bald eagle has made a miraculous comeback since being marked as endangered. Populations even peaked at numbers not seen for about 400 years.

The bald eagle is a representation of “ideal family values,” since the birds mate for life, remain loyal to their nests, and rebuild immediately after they are destroyed, Jack Davis said.

Given that baby boomers like him “didn’t grow up with the bald eagle,” at least in the lower 48 states, Davis said his instinct was to write a book that would provide more information about the “success” of the eagle and its history.

“We’ve pushed the bald eagle to the brink of extinction twice,” he said.

“But we redeemed ourselves and brought him back.”

A bald eagle flies to its nest on March 12, 2022 in Milpitas, California.  Davis said that humans "pushed the bald eagle to the brink of extinction twice."

A bald eagle flies to its nest on March 12, 2022 in Milpitas, California. Davis said humans “have pushed the bald eagle to the brink of extinction twice.”
(Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images)

Davis added, “We often think of history as the consequences of human decision-making, but we ignore the role nature plays in shaping human history.”

The born-and-raised Floridian spoke of the bald eagle as a representation of “ideal family values”, since the birds mate for life, remain loyal to their nest and rebuild immediately after they are destroyed.

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“And they care for their young with such devotion that when they leave the nest at around 18 to 20 weeks, [the young birds] often weigh more than their parents,” he said.

A bald eagle drinks from a water source.  the bird "embodies many of the values ​​we associate with our country," said Jack Davis, including "strength and courage and freedom."

A bald eagle drinks from a water source. The bird “embodies many of the values ​​we associate with our country,” said Jack Davis, including “strength, courage and freedom.”
(Valerio Ferraro/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Although the bald eagle is not the official bird of the United States, Davis said the bird’s charisma makes it a national symbol.

“He embodies many of the values ​​we associate with our country – strength, courage and freedom,” he said.

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“But also, with its white head, white tail and dark body, it’s a very recognizable bird.”

The bald eagle appears on six state flags, is the most popular mascot of American sports teams and, of course, adorns the Great Seal of the United States.

The cover of the new book "The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of the American Bird" by Jack E. Davis (Norton, 2022).

The cover of the new book “The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird” by Jack E. Davis (Norton, 2022).
(Jack E. Davis)

“It’s a truly American bird,” Davis said.

“The bald eagle, in the wild, lives nowhere else outside of North America, so it’s a good choice for the front of the Great Seal of the United States.”

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Although he wrote “The Bald Eagle” for the enjoyment of the general public, Davis acknowledged how much he “enjoyed” writing about the bird.

“These are truly remarkable birds to observe but also to write about,” he said.

Now read an excerpt from “The Bald Eagle” by Jack E. Davis

Excerpt from “The Bald Eagle” by Jack E. Davis: In their long journey from morally corrupt birds of Benjamin Franklin and John James Audubon to the vaunted species they eventually became in American eyes, bald eagles have shown that the improbable can be a prelude as possible.

It is not these steadfast birds that have changed.

They continued as they always have, as neither immoral nor moral. What has changed are American sensibilities.

“The story of the bald eagle’s experience as a bird of America is a study in awareness, transformation, and engagement.”

The story of the bald eagle’s experience as a bird of America is a study in awareness, transformation, and engagement.

It’s a story that can help us overcome unprecedented environmental challenges that have arrived decisively in the 21st century, alongside the return of bald eagles.

It’s a story of possibilities.

This excerpt is from the book “The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird” by Jack E. Davis. Copyright © 2022 by Jack E. Davis. Reprinted with permission from the publisher, WW Norton & Co.

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