We all know the folklore, that Benjamin Franklin preferred the turkey over the bald eagle to represent the United States of America. However, the bald eagle did eventually become the national bird of the U.S., and its history is a story worth knowing.

According to a previous article on the top five big wins of the Endangered Species Act, the bald eagle “fell victim to poaching and to poisoning from the use of DDT. There were only 417 pairs of bald eagles in the 1960s, but now there are over 10,000 pairs. Due to this remarkable recovery, the bald eagle has been de-listed.”

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Seeing a bald eagle in person is something many hope to experience, and now with conservation efforts in place, it can be a possibility for even more people. In honor of our national symbol, and one amazing animal, here are five facts you may not know about the bald eagle!

1. Bald eagles are about three feet tall, but their wings can span six to eight feet from tip to tip.

5 Facts You Didn’t Know about America’s Beloved Bald Eagle
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northwest Region / Flickr

Fact from Washington Post

2. Bald eagles mate for life. Male and female bald eagles look almost identical, but if you see a pair, the female is usually the larger bird.

5 Facts You Didn’t Know about America’s Beloved Bald Eagle
Benimoto / Flickr

Fact from Washington Post

3. Bald eagles can be playful. They have been known to play around with plastic bottles and other objects. One observer has even witnessed some group play, with six bald eagles passing sticks to each other in midair.

5 Facts You Didn’t Know about America’s Beloved Bald Eagle
redeye^ / Flickr

Fact from Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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4. Young bald eagles don’t develop their distinctive white head and tail until they are between 4 and 5 years old.

5 Facts You Didn’t Know about America’s Beloved Bald Eagle
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region / Flickr

Fact from Defenders of Wildlife

5. The largest bald eagle nest on record was 9.5 ft (3 m) wide and 20 ft (6 m) high. It weighed more than two tons.

5 Facts You Didn’t Know about America’s Beloved Bald Eagle
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northwest Region / Flickr

Fact from National Geographic

Lead Image Source: Pen Waggener/Flickr

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