2012 85¢ Northern Harrier
Birds of Prey
Issue Date: January 20, 2012
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Ashton Potter
Printing Method: Offset
People have revered birds of prey throughout history. Watching them effortlessly soar in the skies or dive to catch prey with unbelievable speed made some people think these creatures did not belong to this world.
Many cultures believed raptors were gods or messengers that brought guidance. In ancient Egypt, the powerful god, Horus, took on the form of a falcon, with the sun for his right eye. He became associated with the Pharoah, who was thought to be a god. Because the falcon hunts at dawn and dusk, the Egyptians believed it pulled up the sun in the morning and dragged it away at night. Some Native American tribes believed a prayer would be answered if they saw an eagle while praying. Others felt their prayers were carried to the Great Spirit by the bird.
In the Bible, the nation of Israel was “carried on eagle’s wings” when they escaped Egypt. meaning it was done with great speed.
As symbols of strength and courage, birds of prey were trained by royalty, and their images appeared on coats of arms. Falconry was a sport enjoyed by society’s elite in Medieval Europe. An eagle is pictured on crests from many European and Arab countries.
Birds of prey rule the skies and the land. Their mighty wings have carried them great distances, landing in legends and beliefs throughout history.