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Eagle Mountain Sanctuary

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Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Bald Eagles   •   Hatch Year: Varied    •   Sex: Varied   •   Disability: Varied

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 disabled and would not be able to survive in the wild. These birds are cared for by AEF staff who provide fresh water and food and who visually ensure that the eagles are in good health on a daily basis. Each eagle is given a full physical once a year when their enclosures are inspected and renovated.

Eagle Mountain Sanctuary is divided into four compartments.

Aviary one is dedicated to nesting pair, Glenda and Grant. The aviary is outfitted with a man-made nesting structure that the pair makes their own with nestorations and natural materials.

Aviary two is home to our female bald eagles with partial flight ability.

Aviary three is home to our male bald eagles with partial flight ability.

The smallest enclosure is located on level ground separate from the main exhibit, and eagles who have little to no flight ability (wing amputations) live in this naturally landscaped enclosure. 

These are the residents of Eagle Mountain Sanctuary and a few of their stories:

All photos © American Eagle Foundation.

 Amelia is one of the newest additions to EMS.

Amelia

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Female
Disability: Wing Injury
Ankle Band: Orange SU
Origin: Mississippi

Story:
Amelia was transferred to the AEF from the Jackson Zoo in May 2020. In January of 2017 she arrived at Wild at Heart Rescue in Mississippi for rehab. Amelia had a fracture in her right wing and the tip of that wing was missing. At the time the rehabbers suspected this occurred due to electric shock. Amelia was eventually transferred to the Jackson Zoo for continued rehabilitation and flight conditioning, however she did not regain enough flight ability to be released back into the wild.

Aquila was the victim of a right shoulder gunshot wound most likely when he was very young.

Aquila

Hatch Year: We think about 1993
Sex: Male
Disability: Right wing injury – Gunshot
Ankle Band #:
Origin: Kentucky

Story:
Around 1993, Aquila was treated for a right shoulder gunshot wound. He was very young, likely a newly-fledged bird.  Limited flight left him unreleasable.  He spent time as an education bird at Raptor Rehab of Kentucky, then in July 2017 was transferred to AEF.

Barbosa has a forever home at the American Eagle Foundation.

 

Barbosa

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Female
Disability: Right eye injury (blind), Right wing tip injury Ankle Band #: SB (Orange)
Origin: Treasure Coast Wildlife (Florida)

Story:
In March 2012 this eagle was treated for an injury to the right wing tip and a damaged right eye (blind). Barbosa was transferred to AEF from Treasure Coast Wildlife in Florida in August 2016.


Buckeye perched at EMS

 

Buckeye

Hatch Year: Possibly 2016/2017
Sex: Male
Disability:
Damaged feather follicles on right wing and wrist – Damage to feet
Ankle Band #: RE114575 (Black)
Origin: Crows Hollow Wildlife Care (Ohio)

Story:
Buckeye arrived at AEF in 2021, he was estimated to be about 4-5 years old due to his plumage at intake. This bird nearly drowned in a lake hanging on to a too- large fish. He then let go and swam to a dock where he used his wings to try and climb out of the water. Construction workers got him out and wildlife officer rescued him. He was very bruised and he could not fly.
After healing from the bruising, he failed to grow primaries beyond about 6” growth at which time the feathers would drop out.  With wildlife and falconry recommendations, Crows Hollow let him go through another molt. Again, each time he would grow 3-4 of the primaries, they would molt back out. He is able to fly pretty well actually with his 1.5 wings but he does not get enough lift to fly above about 10’ high nor would he have sustained flight or soaring capabilities.

Faithful (foreground) is seen in this photo with King George. 

Faithful

Hatch Year: 1984
Sex: Male
Disability: Human Socialized
Ankle Band #: RP (Orange)
Origin: San Francisco, California

Story:

Faithful was bonded to another non-releasable Bald Eagle named Peace and they both lived in a large private aviary at the AEF. They hatched and raised numerous young as a part of the our Captive Breeding and Hacking programs.

Unfortunately, Peace passed away in 2016. Faithful was moved to the male section of EMS to reside with our other non-releasable Bald Eagles.

This pair was already bonded when they were transferred to the American Eagle Foundation from the San Francisco Zoo in 2007. In a ceremony honoring fallen soldiers, these two Eagles, along with three other non-releasable Bald Eagle breeding pairs were named by the families of these brave soldiers.

Peace was named in honor Sgt. Alfred Siler.
Faithful was named in honor of Cpl. Rusty Washam.

Faithful Spirit

Hatch Year: 1990
Sex: Female
Disability: Human Socialized
Ankle Band #: RM
Origin: San Francisco, California

Story:
Faithful Spirit was bonded to another non-releasable Bald Eagle named Freedom and they both lived in a large private aviary at the AEF. They hatched and raised numerous young as a part of the AEF’s Captive Breeding and Hacking programs.

Unfortunately, Freedom passed away in 2020. Faithful Spirit was moved to the female section of EMS to reside with our other non-releasable Bald Eagles.

This pair was already bonded when they were transferred to the American Eagle Foundation from the San Francisco Zoo in 2007. In a ceremony honoring fallen soldiers, these two Eagles, along with three other non-releasable Bald Eagle breeding pairs were named by the families of these brave soldiers.

Freedom was named in honor of  Sgt. Paul Thomason. Faithful Spirit was named in honor of Sgt. Daniel Morris.

 

 Fiona is also one of the newest additions to EMS.

Fiona

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Female
Disability: Wing Injury
Ankle Band: Orange SD

Origin: Arkansas

Story:

Fiona arrived at the AEF in March 2020. She was transferred from the Southwest Veterinary Hospital in Arkansas. Fiona has limited range of motion in her right wing as a result of a metacarpal fracture. Due to her injury Fiona does not have enough flight ability to be released back into the wild.

Grace has experienced many medical difficulties in her life. She is much better now and enjoys life at AEF’s Eagle Mountain Sanctuary.

Grace

Hatch Year: 2002 or 2003
Sex: Female
Disability: Arthritic Shoulder (Poor flight)
Ankle Band #: PX (Orange)
Origin: Maryland

Story:
Grace formally known as Boots went to the Wildfowl Trust of North America (WTNA) in May 2003 from the Baltimore Zoo hospital. She was a first year eagle when she had been found down on the ground with such bad arthritis in both shoulders that she was not able to get more than a 5 foot lift or sustain flight beyond 50 feet. She had maintained a healthy weight and no other medical problems until after March 2006. In July 2006 she was sent to Wildlife Rescue in Maryland after a volunteer noticed she “looked bad.” Upon arrival she was found with massive weight loss, anemia, bilateral bumble foot, internal and external parasites (feather mites/lice), and a massive abrasion of her cere that was infected. These were successfully treated over the next 6 months and she was sent back to the WTNA with a healthy weight. In April 2007, she was returned to Wildlife Rescue again with weight loss, anemia, bilateral bumble foot, and a massive infected abrasion of her cere. Her demeanor was depressed. Six months later she completely recovered and she, along with another male Bald Eagle from Wildlife Rescue, were transferred to the American Eagle Foundation to be placed into Eagle Mountain Sanctuary.

An endearing photo of Hamilton enjoying a bath in the tub at his home in Eagle Mountain Sanctuary.

Hamilton

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Male
Disability: Left Wing Injury as a result of possible gunshot wound
Ankle Band #: RE (Orange)
Origin: Hamblen County, TN

Story:
Hamilton came to the AEF as an adult Bald Eagle. He was brought to the University of Tennessee Avian and Zoological Medicine on March 28th 2013 after being found in Hamblen County, TN. Physical examination and radiographs revealed a chronic fracture of the left ulna with some involvement of the elbow joint. Four pellets were noted within the body suggesting that the eagle may have been a gunshot victim. The Eagle was transferred to the American Eagle Foundation the following day, and then returned to UT on 24 May 2013 for reevaluation of the left wing and elbow joint, which appeared swollen. The joint contained a significant amount of fluid, some of which was aspirated and submitted for culture. The Eagle received medications for pain relief and antibiotics pending culture results, and returned again on 10 October 2013 for evaluation of the left wing. Again fluid was present within the joint. Radiographs confirmed swelling of the joint but also indicated damage to the radial and humeral bones at the joint and degenerative joint disease of the elbow. Repeat culture of the joint fluid did not reveal any bacteria. Subsequent to the recheck examination the joint appeared to be less swollen. Although Hamilton can fly, the chronic nature and severity of his joint disease made him an extremely poor candidate for release with any reasonable expectation that he would survive, thus he was placed permanently into his new home!

Hope has overcome many difficulties and is now enjoying life at EMS.

Hope

Hatch Year: 2000
Sex: Female
Disability: Wing Injury
Ankle Band #: RD Orange
Origin: Boise, Idaho

Story:
Hope came to the American Eagle Foundation at approximately one year of age from the Tish Raptor Rehab Center of Boise Idaho. This young Eagle had been found injured and taken there for help. Her wing had broken between the elbow and shoulder and an operation was performed to hold it together. The break was very bad and she was not expected to recover. She had many complications and eventually was brought to The American Eagle Foundation (AEF) in June of 2001. Dr. Ryan, a veterinarian used by the AEF, had to perform another operation to replace the pin in her wing. Hope had a rough convalescence over a period of several months and it was uncertain if she would live. Due to the severity of her injury and extended recovery, she was deemed permanently dis­abled and could not fly or survive in the wild. 

The name, Hope, symbolizes the struggles, which can be overcome, even when the odds are against you.


Josephine is enjoying life at EMS.

Josephine

Hatch Year: 2018 – 2019
Sex: Female
Disability: Left Wing Injury
Ankle Band #: 
Origin: Gilmer County, West Virginia

Story:

Josephine was found hopping around in a creek. She sustained an injury to her left wing at both her ulna and radius- causing her to lose complete capability of flying.

She was transferred to AEF in 2021 for her forever home from Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, our friends at ACCA tell us she loves fish heads, lots of space, and her traveling playlist included some hits from Dolly Parton.

Named in loving honor & memory of Walter Crain who served in WWII.

Kathy has limited flight capacity, but is strong and feisty!

Kathy

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Female
Disability: Injury to Left Patagium (limited range of motion)
Ankle Band #: PU (Orange)
Origin: Wildlife Center of Virginia

Story:
Kathy was admitted to the Wildlife Center as an adult on February 9th, 2007. On initial presentation, the bird had a large open laceration on the left patagium; the membrane on the leading edge of the wing. The wound healed, however, as a result of the injury the patagial ligament has constricted thus restricting full range of motion on the left wing. She was transferred to the American Eagle Foundation to live in her new home at Eagle Mountain Sanctuary. She recovered well and, despite her limited flight ability, is very strong and feisty!

With a partially amputated left wing, King George is non-releasable.

King George

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Male
Disability: Left Wing-tip Injury
Ankle Band #: RX (Orange)
Origin:  Wildlife Center of Virginia

King George came to us in September 2015 as an adult from Wildlife Center of Virginia. He was found injured on August 2nd, 2013 in King George County, Virginia. Due to a traumatic event, his left wing tip was partially amputated, resulting in impaired flight ability.

 

Kodak

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Male
Disability: Left wing dislocation
Ankle Band #: None
Origin:  Kodak, TN

Kodak was found in a cow field in Kodak, TN.
Unable to fly, he was found by some farmers in December of 2020. Kodak not only had a left carpal dislocation, he also tested positive for lead poisoning. After rehabilitation within our flight run – he still was unable to fly well enough to hunt for himself.

Massena

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Male
Disability: Right Wing Amputation
Ankle Band #: (Blue)
Origin:  Adirondack Wildlife

 


Riley is fitting in well with the other male eagles at EMS

Riley

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Male
Disability: Left Wing Injury
Ankle Band #: NA
Origin: West Virginia

Story:
This male arrived at Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia in 2014 after sustaining an injury to his left wing. He suffered a fracture to both his ulna and radius- causing him to lose complete capability of flying. While a home was being located, he served as a mentor to other young eagles that came in. Because of this eagle, the nestlings learned from him, and did not imprint on their human caregivers giving them a second chance in the wild.

Named in loving honor and memory of Raymond Walter Michalik who served in the Korean War, stationed in France and Germany

Mr. Roosevelt (affectionately called “Roo”) recently lost his mate Ellie, who died in 2018. 

Mr. Roosevelt (“Roo”)

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Male
Disability: Injuries to left foot and elbow.
Ankle Band #: RB (Orange)
Origin: Arkansas

Story:

Mr. Roosevelt was presented to the American Eagle Foundation and subsequently to the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center on June 2, 2011 for evaluation. Mr. Roosevelt originated in Arkansas and the rehabilitator there believed that the Eagle was non-releasable. The veterinarian’s examination revealed injuries to the left foot, wrist and elbow. Injuries to the foot and wrist were resolved, but the elbow became a chronic problem. Roo was treated several times with antibiotics and the joint improved; however, it became apparent that he wouldn’t be able to fly well enough to be released back into the wild and was transferred to American Eagle Foundation November 2011.

In 2016, the American Eagle Foundation found two eggs that were laid on the ground in Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, and the eggs were taken to the American Eagle Foundation’s incubation room. One eaglet hatched but unfortunately didn’t make it past its second week.

Later that year, the pair was moved into its own breeding enclosure with its own manmade nest in order to properly mate and raise young!

In 2017, the pair successfully hatched and raised two eaglets! They became the stars of the Dollywood Eagle Cams project, impressing thousands of viewers with their impressive first-time parenting skills.

Sadly on Jan. 17, 2018, Eleanor (Ellie) was found deceased from unknown causes in the aviary.


 

Scarlet

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Female
Disability: Right wing nerve damage
Ankle Band #: RE114574 (Black)
Origin: Crows Hollow Wildlife Care (Ohio)

Story:
Scarlet was found in a corn field by wildlife officer, she was feeding on a discarded pig carcass. Scarlet sustained a right wing injury from a possible collision with a car resulting in radial nerve damage to right wrist. For a period of time she had a severe right wing droop and she had to make an effort to fold it up. With extensive physical therapy she has regained enough wing strength for short flights and can fold the wing in 90% proper position with no damage to primaries. She has very little to no sustained flight or capabilities of soaring.

Tahahente (Mrs. T)

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Female
Disability: Partial left wing amputation
Ankle Band #: (Green)
Origin: Adirondack Wildlife

Story:
Tahahente experienced permanent injuries in the wild at a young age which prevented her release back into the wild. This bird was admitted to the Wildlife Refuge at the Adirondack Rehabilitation in October 2015 after two young hunters saw a juvenile along the shore of the St. Lawrence River. As the two young men drove their boat to the bird, they realized it was an immature eagle unable to take flight because of a gunshot on his left wing. 

Virginia has lived at EMS since 2011. She has a condition whereby her feathers do not grow normally, thereby preventing adequate flight ability, which rendered her unable to survive in the wild.

Virginia

Hatch Year: Unknown
Sex: Female
Disability: Abnormal Feather Growth (inhibited flight)
Ankle Band #: PV (Orange)
Origin: Wildlife Center of Virginia

Story:
Virginia experienced permanent injuries which prevented its release back into the wild. This bird was admitted to the Wildlife Center of Virginia on May 18, 2010 after being seen running through a field unable to fly. On initial physical exam and radiographs there were no abnormalities found with the exception of many broken feathers on the right wing. It was given time to grow feathers, however the feathers remained abnormal on the right wing. Bacterial and fungal cultures were performed of the feather follicles, as well as systemic blood work and multiple repeat physical exams and radiographs. No abnormalities were evident with the exception of pinched feather follicles appreciated on radiographs and grossly visible when a feather falls out. This could be indicative of a past West Nile Virus infection; however, it is not possible to definitively diagnose this. Due to this abnormal feather growth, the WCVA, Virginia was deemed a non-releasable Eagle, as it is unable to fly well enough to fend for itself in the wild. Virginia was transferred to the American Eagle Foundation in February 2011 and now lives in Eagle Mountain Sanctuary.

Windy – hatched in 2015 in Michigan, and injured in a wind turbine collision. Photo taken September 15, 2019.

Windy

Hatch Year: 2015
Sex: Female
Disability: Blind in right eye
Ankle Band: Orange SS
Origin: Michigan

Story:
Windy was hatched in 2015. and was parent reared. Unfortunately, she collided with a wind turbine in Michigan, and according to available records, is the only eagle to date that has survived a wind turbine encounter.

She was in rehab in Michigan for just over a year and transferred to the AEF in May of 2019. She is fully flighted but is completely blind in her right eye, which is now completely black. There were no other significant injuries to Windy from the collision with the wind turbine, but losing an eye meant she could not be released back into the wild.

As stated on our website, wind turbines may now be among the fastest-growing human-caused threats to our nation’s birds. The number of birds taken annually by wind energy facilities (not including associated power lines and towers) has been estimated to exceed 1.4 million birds by 2030 if there is no change in U.S. policy toward wind energy development.

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.