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2015 Dollywood Nesting Season

Featuring Independence & Franklin

Frank stands guard while Indy broods her eggs. Frank stands guard while Indy broods her eggs.

Non-releasable Bald Eagle Independence laid eggs on 3-28, 3-31, and 4-03. One egg was accidentally broken by a stick carried by Indy. When the other two eggs went significantly past projected hatch date, they were confirmed to be infertile.

Indy fluffs the nest bowl sheltering her egg.
Indy fluffs the nest bowl sheltering her egg.

Indy broods her eggs.
Indy broods her eggs.

In spite of their own eggs being infertile, Independence and Franklin were still able be parents this year! They were given and successfully fostered an Eaglet that hatched from an egg produced by captive Bald Eagle breeding pair ‘Isaiah’ and ‘Mrs. Jefferson.’

This pair had laid a clutch of 3 eggs in their nest, but these were infertile. Then, on March 31, 2 additional eggs (a second clutch) were found by an AEF bird curator on the ground in Isaiah and Mrs. Jefferson’s aviary compartment.  Although it was believed the eggs may had missed a vital incubation period, they were immediately taken to the AEF’s incubation room—where they hatched about 35 days later.

Two perfect babies.
Two perfect babies – from the second clutch of Isaiah & Mrs. Jefferson, hatched in the AEF incubator!

The Eaglets were fostered by two different breeding pairs who both accepted the Eaglets as their own! For 6 weeks ‘Little E’ was watched by thousands of viewers across the globe on our Independence and Franklin Live Eagle Nest Cam. The other eaglet, who was later named ‘Hope,’ was fostered successfully by our non-releasable Golden Eagle breeding pair, Wankan-Tankan & Cheyenne.

Just arrived.
A tiny baby, just arrived—soon to meet his foster parents.

Safely tucked in.
Safely tucked in.

Family of three - at home in the nest.
Family of three – at home in the nest.

 

Little E.

No worries here! Little E is instantly accepted and cared for.

Safe and warm, baby takes a nap.
Safe and warm, baby takes a nap.
Lunch time again!
Lunch time again!

Everyone's excited - let's all chirp at once! Everyone’s excited – let’s all chirp at once!

At about 6 weeks of age, when ‘Little E’ began peeking over the side of the nest to see AEF staff bringing in food for the eagles in the aviary, AEF staff knew that it was time to transfer the eaglet to the hack tower. There, in a spacious compartment overlooking Douglas Lake, Little E and the other eaglets in the hack tower were monitored daily by staff, who remained unseen by the eaglets. Because of these careful procedures, the eaglets did not associate food with people, better equiping them for life in the wild.

Al Cecere gently gathers up Little E. It's graduation day!
Al Cecere gently gathers up Little E. It’s graduation day!

Little E settles in.
Everything is very new for Little E, but he has company next door.

Little E is placed in a carrier.
Little E is placed in a carrier.

Ready to fly free.
13 weeks old and fully grown. Little E, now named ‘Miracle,’ is ready to fledge.

On August 8, the eaglet that had become a favorite with the tens of thousands of viewers who watched it on the AEF HD eagle video cam was successfully released into the wild, fledging from the AEF’s hack tower on Douglas Lake.

Miracle fledges ‘Miracle’ flies free!

Enjoy these videos from Frank & Indy’s nesting season, along with 3 videos of Lady Independence & Sir Hatcher’s nest!

On March 27, 2015, Indy laid her first egg.

Video by Dragonlainey, 3:02 minutes (infrared vision).

Independence, a non-releasable bald eagle in the American Eagle’s Foundation aviary located within Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, laid her second egg on March 31, 2015.

By Barb Wilbur, 8:34 minutes.

Frank doing nest duty and Indy taking a break on a favorite perch up the mountain from the nest – and what’s that I hear? – our cam techs have resolved the sound problem and Dollywood’s Eagle Mountain is alive with the sound of 16 Eagles with the background sound of families having fun.

By Dragonlainey – 3:15 minutes.

While Frank looked on Indy laid Egg #3 – way to go Indy!

By Dragonlainey ~ 33:25 minutes.

A deep breath of relief from everyone concern when Frank first fed Little E.  Just placed in the huge nest (along with egg shells from its hatching), bonding immediately took place and Frank and Indy accepted the baby as their own.

By Dragonlainey, 5:31 minutes.

Indy begins “Mom” duties by bonding with Little E, and giving the baby food.

By Dragonlainey – 7:21 minutes.

Indy and her new little Eaglet spend some time bonding, and, of course, eating!

By Dragonlainey – 6:29 minutes.

Frank, Indy, and Little E – early morning, breakfast & snuggle time!

By V. Harley:  123 – 3:33 minutes.

Our Wild Eagles, Lady Independence & Sir Hatcher, are featured in this video. Lady was hatched in the nest of Indy and Frank in 2008 and 4 years later returned with her mate to the area from which she first fledged. This is their nest. They are raising babies, a terrific success story for the AEF’s hacking project.

Video by Kevin Tierney – 1:25 minutes.

A whole bunch of those moments that make you go awwwwwwww! So cute!

By Dragonlainey: 6:10 minutes.

This is the wild nest of “Lady Independence” who is named in honor of her mother, “Independence” (cams above). Lady Independence was released into the wild at 13 weeks of age on July 24, 2008 from the American Eagle Foundation’s artificial nesting/release tower (hack tower) located on Douglas Lake in East Tennessee. The complete leg band for this eagle was 629-43830 and the patagial wing tag was D8. In 2015 they built a 4th nest, which currently houses three eaglets, about 7-8 weeks old as of May 22, 2015. They should fledge at about 13 weeks.

This video was made by AEF videographer, Kevin Tierney. 7:35 minutes.

Our recording started shortly after the first fledge of one of Lady Independence’s juvie. This video shows the return from the first flight, a second flight off the nest and a food delivery by a parent. Video includes slow motion replays. Hope you all enjoy!

By Dragonlainey: 2:46 minutes.

Little E, AKA ‘Miracle,’ fledged on August 8, 2015.

Little E and its Sibling, as eggs, were found on the ground in a breeding enclosure in Eagle Mountain Sanctuary.  These eggs were laid by non-releasable Bald Eagle breeding pair Isaiah and Mrs. Jefferson. Their compartment had been damaged during a recent storm, and they abandoned the 3 eggs they had laid in their nest.  These 2 eggs were the result of a “double clutch” and were laid on the ground.  Not seen immediately, AEF staff  believed the eggs may had missed a vital incubation period. However, as soon as they were found, they were immediately taken to the AEF’s incubation room….and they hatched about 35 days later.

The Eaglets were fostered to two different breeding pairs who both accepted the Eaglets as their own! For 6 weeks “Little E” was watched by thousands of viewers across the globe on our Eagles.org “Independence and Franklin” Live Eagle Nest Cam. Little E was renamed “Miracle” and its sibling was named “Hope.” Hope fledged successfully August 12, 2015.

Little E, AKA ‘Miracle,’ fledged on August 8, 2015.

A ceremony honoring a Navy Corpsman, Mr. Frank Lowe, a 95-year-old WWII and Korean War veteran, was held prior to the eagle being released. He joined the navy in 1939 and served in the south Pacific. He is credited for saving many lives.  He lives in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Little E and its Sibling, as eggs, were found on the ground in a breeding enclosure in Eagle Mountain Sanctuary.  These eggs were laid by non-releasable Bald Eagle breeding pair Isaiah and Mrs. Jefferson. Their compartment had been damaged during a recent storm, and they abandoned the 3 eggs they had laid in their nest.  These 2 eggs were the result of a “double clutch” and were laid on the ground.  Not seen immediately, AEF staff  believed the eggs may had missed a vital incubation period. However, as soon as they were found, they were immediately taken to the AEF’s incubation room….and they hatched about 35 days later.

The Eaglets were fostered to two different breeding pairs who both accepted the Eaglets as their own! For 6 weeks “Little E” was watched by thousands of viewers across the globe on our Eagles.org “Independence and Franklin” Live Eagle Nest Cam. Little E was renamed “Miracle” and its sibling was named “Hope.” Hope fledged successfully August 12, 2015.

Video by Kevin Tierney – 21:00 minutes.