The bald eagle, with its snowy-feathered (not bald) head and white tail, is the proud national bird symbol of the United States—yet the bird was nearly wiped out there. For many decades, bald eagles were hunted for sport and for the “protection” of fishing grounds. Pesticides like DDT also wreaked havoc on eagles and other birds. These chemicals collect in fish, which make up most of the eagle’s diet. They weaken the bird’s eggshells and severely limited their ability to reproduce. Since DDT use was heavily restricted in 1972, eagle numbers have rebounded significantly and have been aided by reintroduction programs. The result is a wildlife success story—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has upgraded the birds from endangered to least concern.
The majestic Bald Eagle was adopted in 1782 as America’s official bird. It has historically been a symbol of freedom and patriotism in the United States of America, and for good reason. The bird is associated with authority and has a fierce beauty that speaks to those who look upon it. Today, the Bald Eagle is a protected species. Once on the brink of extinction, it is currently enjoying a comeback.
From the moment Jeff Guidry saw the emaciated baby eagle with broken wings, his life was changed. For weeks he and the staff at Sarvey Wildlife Care Center tended to the grievously injured bird. Miraculously, she recovered, and Jeff, a center volunteer, became her devoted caretaker. Though Freedom would never fly, she had Jeff as her wings. And after Jeff was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2000, Freedom returned his gift. Between sessions of debilitating chemotherapy, Jeff went back to Sarvey and began taking Freedom for walks that soothed his spirit and gave him the strength to fight. A tender tale of hope, love, trust, and life, this moving true story is an affirmation of the spiritual connection that humans and animals share.