2018 Chatter Reunion & American Eagle Day Celebration ~ A Scrapbook of Memories!
June 14-16, 2018
The first day, Thursday, June 14—After meeting at Patriot Park to pick up name tags, and see Mr. Lincoln free fly, Chatters gathered at AEF’s off-site facility to learn more about what the American Eagle Foundation does in caring for their raptors. Chatters were divided into small groups and toured different areas of the facility. AEF staff members, especially trained in each area spoke about
- Eagle Physicals – Protocols in place after finding an injured eagle or raptor
- Incubating eagle eggs
- Learning about the Hack Tower & Mr. Lincoln
- Touring the bird barn and learning more about the care of our raptors
- Hearing about the worldwide crisis facing Vultures
- Learning about the history of AEF and hearing some great Challenger stories
- Eagle-themed merchandise at the store
Many thanks to Lisa Sifonte & Ed Barels whose great photography is showcased throughout this page. Their photos are featured in this slideshow from the first day! More photos are available on Flickr to download!
AEF Auction / Dinner
The Lodge at Hidden Mountain Resort in Sevierville, TN was this year’s venue for our Auction / Raffle / Dinner gathering. This is always a very energy-charged event, with everyone vying to win their favorite items on display. The format was changed to speed things along a bit, and those attending seemed to really enjoy the revised version! Lots of great items had been donated for the raffle, and this year, chatters could actually choose specific items they wanted to take a chance on with their raffle tickets.
Before the auction and dinner began, chatters had an opportunity to see some special birds of prey in a shady area outside the lodge – leading up to an opportunity to participate in a “Special Adoption” for a selected group of birds. Those deciding to adopt one of these raptors will receive quarterly information, photos, and videos about their selected bird!
Fun & Informative videos set the stage for an exciting evening!
A few unique items were offered up for the higher-end auction bidding this year, including:
- Shadow boxes with Challenger gear and commemorative coins (2 of these)
- An opportunity to be a Food Fairy and feed the eagles on Eagle Mountain Sanctuary
- An opportunity to feed the eaglets in the Hack Tower (2 of these)
- An opportunity to attend an NFL game with Challenger
A slideshow from the auction follows – and more photos are available on Flickr to download! Many thanks to Lisa Sifonte for the photos in this slideshow.
Hack Tower Visit & Little Pigeon River Cleanup
On Friday, June 15, A kick-off video at the Reunion Dinner / Auction announced a major fundraiser, RAISE THE ROOF, to replace the roof on our Douglas Lake hack tower and restore it to its pristine condition. The Hack Tower has been of vital importance in the release of 158 Bald Eagles into the Smoky Mountains! Anyone donating $1000 or more will have his or her name permanently placed on the hack tower. Please consider making a donation to this very important project.
At the AEF Auction, 2 chatters were high bidders on an experience to feed the Smoky Mountain eaglets, Luna, Phoenix, & Nova. They got to climb the Hack Tower, prepare food and water for the eaglets, and slide the drawers containing the food & water into the enclosures where the eaglets had been placed.
We are happy to add that Luna, Phoenix, & Nova – the three eagles – were successfully released into the wild from the hack tower on June 28, 2018!
Watch a slideshow from the hack tower experience of feeding the eaglets!
At 9:00 a.m. many Chatters elected to be part of the Little Pigeon River cleanup. This project was jointly sponsored by the AEF and Keep Sevierville Beautiful. Volunteers came from all over – many Dollywood employees were there to help, as well as the Sevierville Fire Department with their boats, volunteers and staff from Keep Sevierville Beautiful, and staff and Chatters from AEF.
The stretch that was cleaned is the source of the main food supply for Bald Eagles Lady Independence & Sir Hatcher II, and those of you who follow this nest are aware of the 3 interventions necessary to keep the 3 eaglets and their parents safe from the hooks, lines, and sinkers that were brought into the nest along with the fish. With the 3rd intervention, the only safe recourse was to remove the eaglets from the nest and relocate them to the AEF hack tower.
All together, about 150 pounds of trash was removed from the area. The plans are for this to be an annual event, with signs and receptacles placed along the river bank encouraging people to be respectful of wildlife by disposing of their used or broken fishing gear appropriately.
After spending quite a lot of time working in the hot sun, it was time to eat a delicious lunch together at Calhoun’s restaurant.
See a slide show from the Little Pigeon river cleanup! More photos are available on Flickr to download! Thanks again to Lisa Sifonte & Ed Barels for photos used on this page.
2018 Chatter Reunion Highlight Video by Ed Barels
American Eagle Day Celebrated at Dollywood
WBIR Channel 10 Knoxville interviewed Laura Sterbens and Spencer Williams about American Eagle Day and the work of the American Eagle Foundation. Challenger provided his own star quality inspiration!
The American Eagle Foundation (AEF) celebrated American Eagle Day Saturday, June 16, at Dollywood, and Chatters from all across the country, as well as many other Dollywood visitors, gathered to commemorate the anniversary of the selection of the Bald Eagle as our National Symbol and to recognize the Bald Eagle’s physical recovery to America’s skies.
American Eagle Day was first recognized in 1995 by President Bill Clinton and Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist. To date, governors from 49 states have signed proclamations naming June 20 as American Eagle Day.
Until American Eagle Day was established, there had never been a “national day” set aside to annually recognize our country’s inspirational national bird and the role that it has played in our lives, past and present. Together, we can make June 20th an annual day to remember and commemorate this majestic and important American symbol.
This year, we are pleased to announce that Governors from 48 states issued Proclamations recognizing June 20 as American Eagle Day.
Enjoy a slideshow of some of the day’s events. All photos by Lisa Sifonte. To see more images from our day at Dollywood, click here.
- A Meet-and-Greet With Challenger
- A Meet-and-Greet with John Stokes & Bald Eagle Osceola