The American Bald Eagle gained immediate, unofficial recognition as our National bird when the Great Seal of the United States was adopted on June 20, 1782. Official designation of the massive bird that has a wingspan of from 6 to 8 feet did not come however, for six more years. During that time it was the subject of fierce arguments by leading political leaders of the day. In 1789 George Washington became our Nation's first President and the American Bald Eagle became our Country's official bird. Almost 150 years later the American Bald Eagle was protected under the National Emblem Act of 1940.