National Symbols - Bielik Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) - Poland
As you can see, birds-of-prey are very popular national icons, for obvious reasons - other animals are coming, though, with even more interesting lore behind them…
The Bielik Eagle is also known as the White-tailed Eagle, or Sea Eagle. They’re found throughout northern Europe and Asia, and occupy the same ecological niche as Bald Eagles do in North America - top predators of large fish, and willing and voracious scavengers when those aren’t available.
As a symbol of Poland, legend has it that the mythological Lech (often seen as the “founder” of Poland, much like Romulus and Remus were the “founders” of Rome - a real person, but much exaggerated for the purposes of mythology) was hunting far from his original home, and encountered a massive white eagle, fiercely defending its nest from intruders. Against the red sky of the setting sun, the eagle’s massive wings were tipped with gold, and Lech saw this as a good omen. He settled within the eagle’s territory, and adopted it as his herald.
Today, the white eagle can be found throughout Poland and Polish representations. Most notably, the Polish flag has historically had a large crowned White Eagle at its center (though the standard is currently simply red and white, with white representing the White Eagle), and the highest decoration of merit in Poland is the Order of the White Eagle. All branches of the Polish military have a Seal that includes a unique stylization of the White Eagle symbol, and the image is emblazoned upon many government buildings and schools.
At one point, the White Eagle was considered critically endangered throughout Europe. However, it has since been protected, and recovered amazingly well. It is currently considered one of the most successful birds-of-prey extant, and is not threatened to become endangered.
Bottom: White-tailed Eagle (note the resemblance to the Bald Eagle)
Top: Coat-of-arms of Poland