The bald eagle. The only sea eagle endemic to North America. And, of course, the national bird of the United States of America.
Why “bald”? Looks like it has enough stuff on its head to be “hairy”!
Probably has something to do with the Celtic bal (= white patch) or the Greek phalos (= white). Nothing really to do with loss of hair, unless loss of aforementioned scalp appendage resulted in a shiny pate that kinda looked white. Anyhow, our bird of interest has plenty of tufts on its head. They are white. So “bald.” Thus Haliaeetus leucocephalus (leuco = white; and cephalus = head). Of course, it also has a white tail.
Plenty of these in Alaska. About 40,000–50,000 in that state. We saw them everywhere on our recent trip. Since 2007, this bird of prey is no longer on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
The founders of the United States employed many a Roman symbol for their patriotic metaphors and official imagery. The eagle was one such borrowed emblem, standing for strength and courage and farsightedness and even immortality—a figure of the Romans’ Jupiter and the Greeks’ Zeus. Apex predators, the bald eagle is called, for they have no superior in the wild; nothing preys on them. They are at the top, the apex. Powerful image!
In fact God compares himself with the bird several times in Scripture, drafting the eagle’s legendary care for its young, to describe his own care for his people.
“You yourselves have seen …
how I bore you on eagles' wings,
and brought you to Myself.”
In 1782, the Continental Congress incorporated the bald eagle into the Great Seal of the United States, with the bird grasping 13 arrows and a 13-leaved olive branch in its talons: peace and war. Haliaeetus leucocephalus also shows up on a number of official seals and logos of federal agencies, including the Presidential Seal.
Much though those offices and officialdom needs respect, it won’t be President or agency or government or federation that carries us and cares for us. Nope!
For the LORD's portion is His people;
Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.
He found him in a desert land,
And in the howling waste
of a wilderness;
He encircled him, He cared for him,
He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
That hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.
Like the eagle, faithful to its mate for life, God cares for his own.
And so, we, browbeaten, bulldozed, and bludgeoned by a bullying world, rest confident in the knowledge of God’s care, the care of one, who like the eagle, is at the apex. Indeed, he is The APEX!
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
And so we bless the Lord, because now, we have become eagles!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me,
bless His holy name. …
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases; …
Who crowns you with
lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years
with good things,
So that your youth is renewed
like the eagle.