Lower Level Area
Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Bald Eagles • Hatch Year: Varied • Gender: Varied • Disability: Non-Flighted
Eagle Mountain Sanctuary encompasses 400,000 cubic feet on the side of a very steep, heavily wooded hillside in the Dollywood theme park. The Bald Eagles residing within Eagle Mountain Sanctuary are all permanently physically disabled and would not be able to survive in the wild. These birds are cared for daily by AEF staff who provide fresh water and food and who visually ensure that the Eagles are in good health. They are given full physicals once a year when their enclosures are inspected and renovated.
The smallest enclosure is located on level ground separate from the main exhibit, and Eagles who have little to no flight ability (such as wing amputations) live in this enclosure, which is partially landscaped for ease of movement. Low perches are also available for the eagles.
Many of our Bald Eagle breeding pairs throughout the years have resulted from two Eagles from the PAM section and the Lower Level section choosing each other as mates, at which point they are given their own private enclosure with the hope that they will reproduce and raise Eaglets that will be released into the wild.
Currently 2 resident eagles live in this enclosure:
Hatch Year: Unknown
Disability: Amputated wing as a result of gunshot wound
Ankle Band #: PR (Orange)
Origin: Gulf County, FL
“Brave Spirit” is a male Bald Eagle. He was found in Gulf County, Florida in March, 30 2006 by two state biologists who were performing fauna surveys. He was taken to the local wildlife rehabilitator, where it was discovered he had been shot in his wing and he had compound fractures of both bones above the elbow The wing could not be saved and was amputated at the elbow. This Eagle recovered after his surgery and rehabilitation, and was given the name Brave Spirit because of his determination and will to live. Not only did he overcome his injuries, he overcame a depression that commonly accompanies birds of prey when they experience a serious injury. It is inconceivable how anyone could shoot one of these beautiful birds. Brave Spirit now resides at the American Eagle Foundation’s “Eagle Mountain Sanctuary” at Dollywood entertainment park in Pigeon Forge, TN. His presence reminds everyone to do all we can to protect and conserve this majestic species.
Hatch Year: Unknown
Disability: Right Eye Cataract & Right Shoulder Injury
Ankle Band #: RW (Orange)
Origin: North Norwich, New York
“Troy” was found near a fishing access road in North Norwich, New York. He had a cataract in his right eye and injured right wing. Despite attempts to rehabilitate him, his wing injury was severe enough to render him flightless. He was transferred to the American Eagle Foundation to live permanently in Eagle Mountain Sanctuary.
ABOUT THIS SPECIES
Bald Eagles were placed at the center of the Great Seal of the United States in 1782! Since then, they have served as the pride of America’s skies and the symbol of all that America stands for.
Bald Eagles obviously aren’t bald! “Bald” in this sense refers to an Middle English word that means “white headed.” When eagles fledge the nest at between 10 and 13 weeks of age, they are primarily all brown. An Eagle gets its full white head and tail feathers and yellow beak and eyes at around four to five years of age.
Bald Eagles typically mate for life. Usually, they will only look for a new mate if their faithful companion dies, but sometimes a new mate is chosen in a territorial fight over a nest.
In building a nest, Bald Eagles will choose a ‘super-canopy’ tree—one rising above the rest— near to water, with sturdy limbs and a commanding view of the surrounding terrain. Typical nest heights are 50-125 feet high. They make use of twigs, grasses, soft mosses and feathers in making their nests and normally return to the same nest each year during breeding season and add new materials to it. A new eagle pair’s nest usually measures about five feet in width and two feet in depth. As they add to it year after year, however, it can reach widths of over ten feet and weigh up to a ton or more. On the Channel Islands, where large trees are very scarce, Bald Eagles have built their nests on cliffs; and, in some coastal areas of Alaska and Canada where there are few tall trees, Bald Eagles will nest on the ground, using whatever materials are available.