A little bit of interesting history about our national symbol...
(taken from www.greatseal.com)
As some of you may know, Benjamin Franklin didn't necessarily agree with the choice of the bald eagle as our national symbol. Prior to it being accepted as such, he suggested other animals such as the rattlesnake for our "temper and conduct of America". Other suggestions included an action scene with Moses and Pharaoh, a two-headed eagle, a rooster, a dove, and a "phoenix in flames". In the end, a picture of the bald eagle was submitted by Charles Thomson and approved on June 20, 1782.
In 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter about this choice. An excerpt is below.
"For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen 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 near the River, 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 & 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 . . .
"I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, 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."