- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 8, 2001

The Haliaeetus leucocephalus, or bald eagle, became the emblem for the United States of America on June 20, 1782. Yet, over the next 200 years, the bird was hunted or poisoned by pesticides to near extinction by the country that had embraced it.

Luckily, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service got involved 30 years ago. Thanks to its careful monitoring and help from the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, this majestic creature is close to being removed from the list of threatened and endangered species.

One woman has created an evolving on-line tribute to the feathered hunter. It contains a wide range of photographs plus loads of information on the bald eagle's life, history and protection by others.

American Bald Eagle Information

Site address: www.baldeagleinfo.com.

Creator:

Hope Rutledge lives in Fall Creek, Wis., with her husband. She has two daughters, a stepson, three grandchildren, two dogs and a horse.

Creator quotable:

"I created this Web site to provide information and photographs to children for their school projects as well as anyone who is interested in learning about the bald eagle," Mrs. Rutledge says.

Word from the Webwise:

The honorable Benjamin Franklin never warmed to making the bald eagle America's symbol. He thought the bird had a bad moral character, did not live honestly because it stole food from other birds and was a coward. Franklin wanted the turkey to represent the country.

This is just one of the stories on the site, which also features numerous facts and images, combining to provide a text-driven ode to a mighty bird of prey. Within an atmosphere of blues and yellows, visitors will find 24 sections of information on these birds, which can see a fish in the water from 100 feet above the surface.

Visitors should begin with the sections on history, eyesight and hearing, migration and feeding habits, nesting with young, eagle brethren around the world, the mythology of the eagle and the saga of Old Abe.

Old Abe became the feathery mascot of the 8th regiment of Wisconsin's volunteer infantry unit during the Civil War. He joined the soldiers in 30 battles and managed to survive cannon fire and the sharpshooters constantly looking to take out some of his 7,000 feathers. Who said bald eagles are cowardly?

Information has been culled from a variety of sources, including "Bald Eagles: Their Life and Behavior in North America" by Donald F. Bruning, the 1999 release "Eagles" by Rebecca L. Grambo and "The Junior Instructor Book 2," a very old schoolbook owned by Mrs. Rutledge's mother.

The site provides plenty of information but truly shines through Mrs. Rutledge's photographs. Her camera has found eagles everywhere from the Chilkat River north of Haines, Alaska, to the Dallas Zoo in Texas.

She even throws in poems from classic authors and a few screen savers so visitors can keep the eagle on their computer screens all the time.

Mrs. Rutledge also has used her photographic eye to capture a range of pictures of birds indigenous to Wisconsin. Her tribute to the feathered folk includes background information on each and mug shots of fellows such as the indigo bunting, hairy woodpecker and brown-headed cowbird.

Ease of use:

Mrs. Rutledge lets her text and quickly loading photographs highlight the life of the bald eagle, with no complicated page designs or plug-ins required. She throws in a few drop-down menus to keep navigation easy as well as a site map at the bottom of every page.

Don't miss:

Besides viewing a simple slide show featuring eagle photos taken in Wisconsin near the Mississippi and Chippewa rivers, visitors can create an e-mail postcard highlighting the bird. A simple interface allows the choice of an image, personal message, text color, background color and a musical selection to accompany the greeting.

Family activity:

Observing bald eagles in the wild or in captivity sounds like a great vacation idea. Trips can be planned to states with the highest concentrations of the birds: Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Washington and Alaska.

Die-hard families should start planning now for an adventure to the Northern Mississippi valley for January and February of next year. Up to 5,000 bald eagles can hang out on the Mississippi River between Cairo, Ill., and St. Paul, Minn.

Cyber-sitter synopsis:

Students looking for a great source for a paper will love the easy-to-use site and its information. Younger children will enjoy the colorful photos, but not too much else is available in the way of on-line activities.

Overall grade: B+

Remember: The information on the Internet is constantly changing. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it's accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician. Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message ([email protected]).


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