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100 FLYING BIRDS: Photographing the Mechanics of Flight




A good article on the constellation Aquila can be found here:

Plotner, Tammy. 2016. “The Aquila Constellation.” Universe Today, March 18, 2016. (accessed January 21, 2019).



Benjamin Franklin’s letter to his daughter Sarah Bache appears on page 567 in the following volume:


Franklin, Benjamin. 1834. Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin Written by Himself and Continued by His

 Grandson and Others. His Epistolary Correspondence, Philosophical, Political, and Moral

Letters and Essays, Diplomatic Transactions as Agent at London and Minister

Plenipotentiary at Versailles. Vol. 1. Philadelphia: McCarty & Davis.


The complete text of the relevant passage from the letter, reproduced below, indicates that reference to the turkey emerges based not on his preferred choice of bird for the Great Seal (as some have suggested) but on the appearance of the Bald Eagle on an insignia for the “brave and honest Cincinnati of America.” Franklin thought that this organization – The Society of Cincinnati — came too close to the kind of hereditary privilege that he had sought to shed by adding his signature to the Declaration of Independence.


Wikipedia contributors, "Society of the Cincinnati," Wikipedia, The Free

Encyclopedia, (accessed January 21, 2019)


To Mrs. Bache.

Passy, January 26, 1784.


Your care in sending me the newspapers is very agreeable to me. I received by captain Barney, those relating to the Cincinnati. My opinion of the institution cannot be of much importance: I only wonder, that when the united wisdom of 0ur nation had, in the articles of confederation, manifested their dislike of establishing ranks of nobility, by authority either of the congress or of any particular state, a number of private persons should think proper to distinguish themselves and their posterity, from their fellow-citizens, and for an order of hereditary knights, in direct opposition to the solemnly declared sense of their country.


            [two pages further on…..]


Others object to the bald eagle, as looking too much like a dindon or turkey. For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character: he does not get his living honestly: you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself; he watches the labour of the fishing hawk; and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him, and takes it from him. With all this injustice he is never in good case, but like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward: the little king bird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly, and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America, who have driven all the king birds from our country; though exactly fit for that order of knights which the French call Chevaliers d’ lndustrie. I am on this account, not displeased that the figure is not known as a bald eagle, but looks more like a turkey. For in truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America. Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey was peculiar to ours; the first of the species seen in Europe, being brought to France by the Jesuits from Canada, and served up at the wedding table of Charles IX. He is besides, (though a little vain and silly ‘tis true, but not the worse emblem for that) a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.



There is an image of the scene I described on the following web page:

Hokkaido Kushiro – Lake Akan Travel Guide. n.d. “Akan International Crane Center Grus.”

Accessed September 23, 2019.



Steller was a man of many talents: botanist, zoologist, physician and explorer. At the age of 28, he married the widow of a former naturalist colleague, and seems to have “inherited” the man’s scientific papers of studies in Siberia. He is said to have been the first non-native to set foot on Alaska in 1741.

Wikipedia contributors, "Georg Wilhelm Steller," Wikipedia, The Free

Encyclopedia, (accessed February 1, 2019.



Details of the life of young Bald Eagle chicks are contained in this U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service posting:

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. n.d. “Eagle Facts.” Accessed February 2, 2019.



A news account describing the release of six White-tailed Sea-eaglets is here:

Barkham, Patrick. “White-tailed eagles return to southern Britain after 240 years.” The

Guardian, August 22, 2019.



Details of, and a rationale for, the plan to cull 200 Golden Eagles in Norway in order to protect sheep and reindeer are reported here:

Berglund, Nina. 2016. “Protests fly over new eagle hunt.” News in English: Views and News from Norway, June 7, 2016. 

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