2013 Nesting Season
Watch Live Streaming Video From Our High Definition Overhead Cam
Starring "Independence" and "Franklin" and Their Two Baby Eaglets
June 15, 2013. The eaglets were removed from the nest, weighed, and banded. They were 6 weeks, 2 days old.
On June 16, after a medical checkup, they were taken to the hack tower overlooking Douglas Lake. There, they will be in a very large enclosure with perching poles, and a "picture window" (with bars) overlooking the world of nature into which they will soar at about 13 weeks of age. This new environment allows them to acclimate and bond to a natural setting, away from people who would bring food to them, and people who they would see at Dollywood Park. At the hack tower, they will not be able to see their caregivers, who will monitor them closely through one-way mirrors, and give them fresh food and water through a drawer that slides through the lower part of the back of their enclosure. They will not associate the delivery of food with people. The food will be cut into pieces they can handle now, and then as they learn to tear off pieces themselves, the fish will be given to them whole - as they would find it in the wild.
Watch a video of the eaglets being removed from the nest.
Many people have wondered why we place the eaglets in a hack tower when they are so young. Bob Hatcher, Eagle Consultant and Correspondent at American Eagle Foundation (AEF). Past: TN Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), states:
"We must transfer the eaglets from the Dollywood Park environment to imprint them to much more typical bald eagle habitat that they can view from AEF's Douglas Lake hack site.
This usually needs to be done between 5.5 and 6.5 weeks age, or whenever they can see over the top of their nest.
AEF constructs their nest with steep and somewhat high edges so that the eaglets can remain with their parents, and on camera, longer than otherwise. If the eagles are allowed to remain in the nest too long, they begin to climb atop the nest, as one already has a few times.
The transfer to the hack tower needs to be made just before the eaglet(s) begins to peer downward to the ground and Park at about a 45 degree angle. They could then possibly see AEF staff placing food on the ground inside the aviary, so that the eagle parents can deliver it to the eaglets in the nest. This could easily result in the eaglet's permanently associating humans as their food source, and thus not learning to fish for themselves, and therefore risk starving to death.
Likewise, if the eaglets get too familiar with the Dollywood Park patrons by viewing them from 80 feet away for a few weeks, they would tend to lose their wildness to the degree that their well-being would be significantly diminished. One or both eaglets could therefore be transferred at any time to their survival in the wild.
Even under the best of conditions, only about 50% of eagles survive their first year in the wild (90 % each year thereafter), due primarily to their inexperience in the wild and lack of knowledge about threats to their survival.
In summary, we want to imprint our released eagles on typical bald eagle habitat where they can learn how to survive in the wild."
To see another live-streaming view of the nest from a different angle, you may click here. This version also has sound and a chat feature. Chat rules are located at the bottom of this page.
The reality stars of our online nest, located at Eagle Mountain Sanctuary in the Dollywood Park in Pigeon Forge, TN, are non-releasable Bald Eagle breeding pair "Franklin" and "Independence" - plus their 2 eaglet babies. Frank and Indy both came from Alaska and had to be rehabilitated because of gunshot wounds to their left wings. They now have a forever home at the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
They became a bonded pair in 2000. From 2002 through the nesting season of 2013 this pair has laid and hatched out 29 eggs. Their offspring have all been released from the American Eagle Foundation's Douglas Lake Hack Tower, and the two babies now in the nest will also be released when they are full grown and ready to fly away at approximately 13 weeks of age.
First egg laid March 23 at 7:55 p.m. EST. and hatched at 3:51 p.m. EST May 2
Second egg laid March 26 at 8:46 p.m. EST and hatched at 10:48 p.m. May 2, 2013.
What is the American Eagle Foundation (AEF)?
Established in 1985, the non-profit AEF
is dedicated to protect the majestic Bald Eagle, the USA's National
Symbol, and its habitat by supporting and conducting eagle and
environmental recovery and education programs.
In 2010, the organization celebrated its 25th Anniversary.
In addition to its WWW.EAGLES.ORG website, the AEF also has a Facebook page, a Google+ page, MySpace page, Eagle Blog, free e-Newsletter, and YouTube "Bald Eagle Info" Channel. All these features can be accessed from its website homepage.
How often are the eaglets fed?
The eaglets get fed by their parents numerous times per day (and
sometimes during night). The parents usually feed the babies beginning
at around 6:30 a.m. or 7 a.m. (EST). As the babies grow bigger, they
will require more food.
The food is placed inside the aviary at the bottom of the hill from the
nest twice a day (morning and evening) by AEF staff. The amount of food
provided daily is more than enough for the babies to be fed numerous
times. In fact, there are usually leftovers at the end of the day.
The food in the nest is sometimes lying off-camera or blends in with the
straw. The birds are cared for by professional AEF caregivers and by
experienced eagle parents. In past years, the parent birds have
successfully raised two sets of triplets. In the video below, you will see how caregivers have left fresh food at the bottom of the hill for the adult eagles. They choose the "main course" and then hop-fly it up a very steep hill to the nest. The adults and babies all share in the dinner - of course, the adults tear the food into tiny bits for the small eaglets, and then as the eaglets grow, they are able to eat larger and larger pieces.
Make a charitable donation to help our conservation work.
The American Eagle Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit public charity, so donations are fully "tax-deductible".
The programs of the AEF are sustained by donations from individuals and
corporations. The AEF receives no governmental funding.
There is a DONATION BUTTON on the home page of the AEF's website. You
may also click the donate button at the top of this page and choose how
you would like to help. In addition, you may "adopt" Franklin and Indy
by clicking the "Adopt" button at the top. Soon, we will have a CHAT
T-SHIRT for sale, designed by one of our Chat Group featuring last
year's eaglets, and sure to please. When it becomes available, the
t-shirt button at the top of the page will go "Live."
Donors can support the AEF in a variety of ways, including Adopting Eagles and purchasing beautiful Eagle-Themed Gifts
This is the largest aviary presentation of non-releasable Bald Eagles in the world.
The nest of "Independence" and "Franklin" can be found about 35 feet up
a steep hillside inside the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary aviary at
Dollywood. The nest is a human-made structure, but the parents add
sticks and other materials before and after laying and hatching their
A vast habitat offers a natural setting for these non-releasable
eagles. Many have limited flight and enjoy flying up in the trees.
An artificial nesting/release tower overlooking a private area on
Douglas Lake (East Tennessee) is home for the eaglets after they are
removed from their parents' nest at 5 to 6 weeks of age. While there,
they do not come into direct contact with people, but are closely
monitored and cared for daily by AEF staff members until they have grown
to full-size at 13 or 14 weeks of age and are released into the wild.
While living in the nesting tower, the eaglets are viewed through
one-way mirrored glass windows and fed/watered via sliding drawers, so
they do not become "human-imprinted." Prior to their release, the
eaglets are fitted with a radio tracking transmitter on their middle
tail feather, a colored/numbered marker on their left wing, and a U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service metal band on their right leg/ankle.
None of the advertising or commercials appearing on this UStream channel are controlled by the American Eagle Foundation, nor are any of the products and services that are promoted here endorsed by the Foundation.
Chat Room Rules When Visiting Our Other Streaming Video Site
1. Be respectful, polite, and focused on eagles.
2. No profanity, personal invective, or other inappropriate comments.
3. No comments touching on politics, religion, or sports. Respect the diversity of the room. Although we respect your political views, please do not post them in the main chat, since this is not a forum for political issues. The conversation should be focused on AEF.
4. We prefer that chatter focus on eagles and other raptors and not on TV shows that may not be suitable for family viewing.
5. Disagreements might be unavoidable but should remain polite, and they should never become arguments.
6. Do not post strings of several emoticons, smileys, or random
characters, either on a single line or in successive posts. Do not post
in all caps, it's like YELLING.
7. Allow mods to deal with chat abusers, do not engage them yourself, keep your posts relevant to the eagles.
8. Respect the mods, who are here to make sure all viewers have a good experience.
9. Chatting is a privilege, not a right. If your presence is disruptive,
moderators (mods) can timeout, kick, or permanently ban chat abusers,
and can delete inappropriate posts.
10. Medical - Although we care deeply about the health and well being of our chatters, we ask that all medical issues be kept private. If you wish to communicate with someone regarding your medical situation, please do so by means of Private Messages (PMs).
11. Other Nest Cams - We are aware that many of our chatters view other nests and like to share the news, which is acceptable. However, please keep information from other nests to a minimum so we don't confuse other chatters. The conversation should be focused on the American Eagle Foundation. Of course, if you feel the need to discuss another nest, please feel free to use Private Messages (PMs).
12. For people way off topic - Please remember the conversation should be focused on AEF. We are all very privileged to be able to watch these beautiful creatures and to be able to share the experience with our fellow chatters. If you feel the need to discuss other topics, please do so by using Private Messages (PMs).
If you would like more detailed answers to questions you may have, please check our Eagle Blog or email Bob Hatcher, our Eagle Expert, at EagleMail@eagles.org.
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Weather at Eagle Mountain Sanctuary