The American Eagle Foundation (AEF) is providing a new birds-eye view of a wild eagle nest in Sevier County, though it's not the view they originally intended.
Lady Independence, who was born at Dollywood and released in 2008, and her mate Sir Hatcher, have been nesting in the same general area since 2011. In 2015, a camera was placed on the roof of a house near the nest so the public could watch them from the ground. Last year, after their eaglets had been raised and left the nest, the AEF installed cameras and audio equipment above the nest so we could all watch them raise their family this year.
But the birds didn't cooperate!
Despite the fact that most eagles return to the same nest every year, the pair apparently decided to make a move, building a new nest about 600 feet away in a different tree.
The AEF did not want to disturb the pair once they started nesting, so a close-up camera wasn't possible this year. Instead, with the help of Charter Communication, they installed a long-range camera that will provide a view of the eagles entering and leaving their nest. You can watch that here.
After the eagles leave the area this year, the AEF will install the camera above the new nest. Hopefully, the birds won't decide to move again!
Lady Independence's story
When a new bald eagle pair took up residence just a few miles from the American Eagle Foundation, wildlife photographers noticed that the female had a metal leg band. It took a couple of years and lots of photos before the AEF was able to enlarge the ID number on the eagle's leg band to identify her.
Turns out, she was hatched and raised by non-releasable bald eagle breeding pair Independence and Franklin at Dollywood and was then released into the wild in 2008 from AEF’s Hack Tower on Douglas Lake
“It’s just so good, such a great feeling to know that some of that youngsters have survived long enough to come back to this area, build their own nest, and raise true Tennessee eagles right here in the heart of Sevierville,” Al Cecere, founder of the American Eagle Foundation, says.
Bald eagles usually choose a mate for life when they are 4 to 5 years old, and tend to return to the general area where one of them first learned to fly.
She was named Lady Independence to honor her mother.
The pair have successfully hatched and fledged ten eaglets, though one was seriously injured in a fall from the nest. He was rescued and treated, but was unable to be released because of permanent damage to his wing. That eaglet, named Abraham, now lives at the AEF as an educational ambassador.