LADY INDEPENDENCE: Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Bald Eagle  •  Born: 2008   •  Gender: Female

SIR HATCHER: Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Bald Eagle •  Born: Unknown   •  Gender: Male

‘Lady Independence’ and ‘Sir Hatcher’ are a wild pair of Bald Eagles that built a nest just five miles from the American Eagle Foundation. They have produced several young since 2013.

The AEF noticed that the female of this pair was wearing a USFWS leg band. In 2014, photos taken by AEF Volunteer John Prickett allowed the AEF to read the ID number on the Eagle’s metal leg band, and it was revealed to be a female eagle that came from the American Eagle Foundation. She was hatched and raised by non-releasable Bald Eagle breeding pair  ‘Independence’ and ‘Franklin’ and then released into the wild in 2008 from the AEF’s  Hack Tower on Douglas Lake!

After Bald Eagles become sexually mature, at about 4 to 5 years of age, and choose their life-long mates, they tend to return to the general area where one of the pair first learned to fledge, or fly. It turns out that after fledging into the wild from the hacking tower on Douglas Lake, this female Eagle decided to return to the Pigeon Forge area 4 years later with her mate to build their first nest!

The AEF named her Lady Independence, in honor of her mother. Her mate was named Sir Hatcher in honor of AEF friend, mentor, and supporter Bob Hatcher, the man who made the AEF’s hacking program possible in the early 1990s.

“It’s just so good, such a great feeling to know that some of that youngsters have survived long enough to come back to this area, build their own nest, and raise true Tennessee eagles right here in the heart of Sevierville,” Al Cecere, founder of the American Eagle Foundation, says.


Bald Eagles typically mate for life. They will only look for a new mate if their faithful companion dies. Together, they build huge nests known as ‘aeries’ atop tall and strong trees. They make use of twigs, grasses, soft mosses, and feathers in making their nests.

They normally return to the same nest during breeding season, adding new materials to it each year.  A new eagle pair’s nest measures about five feet in width and two feet in depth, but as they add to it year after year, it can reach widths of over ten feet and weigh up to a ton or more.

Learn more about Bald Eagles.