Famous Bald Eagle Couple, Bella and Smitty, Welcome Their First Chick!

Congratulations to Bella and Smitty! The famous bald eagle couple gave birth to this year’s very first eaglet on the campus of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Through EagleCam, a project of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with the Outdoor Channel and the Friends of the National Conservation Training Center, the hatching of the eaglet was caught on video in March 26. There is a second egg in the nest which people hope will also hatch soon.

Photo: Twitter/US Fish and Wildlife Service

Since 1782, the bald eagle has been the national bird of the United States, and it can be proudly found on the country’s Great Seal with its outspread wings. The majestic bird has also appeared in many official documents and government institutions, including US currency.

The bald eagle is native to North America, where it flourished for
generations. However, in 1963, these birds were on the brink of extinction due to hunting, habitat destruction and degradation, and the use of Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) pesticide. At that time, there were only 417 known bald eagle nesting pairs remaining.

This prompted the government and non-government organizations to act fast and implement conservation programs to save the bald eagle. In addition, the bird was placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. DDT was also banned because it caused the decimation of the bald eagle population after the Second World War.

Out of admiration and compassion for this majestic eagle, President John F. Kennedy wrote to the Audubon Society: “The Founding Fathers made an appropriate choice when they selected the bald eagle as the emblem of the nation. The fierce beauty and proud independence of this great bird aptly symbolize the strength and freedom of America. But as latter-day citizens, we shall fail our trust if we permit the eagle to disappear.”

After decades of painstaking conservation efforts, the bald eagle has made a successful comeback! In 2007, it was finally removed from the Endangered Species Act but remains protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

And today, news of bald eagles building nests and raising chicks is warming hearts worldwide. Bella and Smitty’s love story is especially inspiring because, at the early stage of their nest-building, another eagle wanted to steal their home. But the couple was able to ward off the intruder and keep their nest safe in time for the arrival of their two eggs.

Will the second one hatch? Everyone is crossing their fingers. Yes, these birds’ population has been recovering well, but another hatchling from Bella and Smitty would certainly bring more joy to the new family and those who care about them!

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