Bald Eagles Tennessee
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The Eagles Have Landed In Tennessee

I scanned distant treetops on a cold January day nearly 30 years ago at Reelfoot Lake State Park in hopes of spotting flashy white heads of bald eagles that had migrated south for better winter fishing.

The sun peeked out from a cloud and suddenly a huge shadow passed right in front of me. All eyes, including mine, were turned to the sky as a handsome bald eagle flew only 15 feet above us. You could’ve heard a feather drop.

Bald Eagles Tennessee

Bald eagles hold their wings flat while soaring.

To this day I relish the breathtaking moment I saw my first bald eagle in the wild.
And to think, we almost lost the chance to ever see them again.

The bald eagle population plummeted during the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s largely due to effects of DDT, a widely used pesticide that thinned and doomed their eggs. Endangered nationwide, not a single eaglet was seen in Tennessee between 1961 and 1983.

In 1980 a plan was hatched to transport young eaglets from nests in Alaska where bald eagles were relatively abundant to new homes in Tennessee.

Bald Eagles Tennessee

By five years of age, adult bald eagles stand about three feet tall, weigh up to 14 pounds and have striking white heads and tail plumage.

Large caged nesting platforms called hacking towers were built on Reelfoot, Barkley, Cheatham, Chickamauga, Dale Hollow, Douglas and South Holston Lakes. Because bald eagles return to the same nests year after year, it was hoped eaglets would imprint on their hacking tower locations and return to the same area to breed as adults.

Today, about 175 nesting pairs of bald eagles are found statewide thanks to a 1972 ban on DDT and Tennessee’s successful hacking program, coordinated by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, involving multiple agencies and scores of dedicated volunteers.

Winter is the perfect time to see bald eagles when hundreds of northern migrants join year round breeding residents.

The largest numbers in the state are found at Reelfoot Lake State Park near Tiptonville where naturalists and park rangers lead daily bald eagle and waterfowl bus or van tours at 10 a.m. Monday through Friday and at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on weekends from early January through the end of February.

Based on personal experience it’s the best $5 you’ll ever spend. Saturdays during the winter eagle season the park hosts free guest speaker programs at 7 p.m.

February 1-3 the 9th Annual Reelfoot Lake Eagle Festival offers guided bus and van tours, programs for all ages, art and photography contests, storytelling, displays, vendors, live birds of prey programs and sunrise photography tours on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Activities and registration begin Friday at 4 p.m.

Bald Eagles Tennessee

Live birds of prey demonstrations feature birds unable to be returned to the wild that provide opportunities to see magnificent bald eagle as well as other raptors.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge has free van tours departing from the Refuge office in Union City on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and noon through February 28.

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area has van tours to view bald eagles and migrating waterfowl scheduled most weekends through early March. Or reserve your spot, relax and enjoy brunch during a birding cruise aboard a luxury yacht.

The 19th annual Dale Hollow Lake Eagle Watch is scheduled for January 19 and January 26. Advance reservations are required and are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis for the free open-air barge tours conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rangers and staff.

Be sure to dress for the weather and call ahead for reservations for bald eagle tours. They fill up quickly!

Let me know where you’ve seen bald eagles in Tennessee this year.

Bald Eagles Nest Tennessee

Bald eagles normally mate for life and, in Tennessee, typically produce two large white eggs in mid-February that both parents incubate for 34 to 40 days.

 

Hi there! I’m Vernon Summerlin. Like many, I came to Nashville to break into the music industry. After years of striving, I...Read on

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    Sheila Marsh

    How do I make reservations for the 26th?

    The 19th annual Dale Hollow Lake Eagle Watch is scheduled for January 19 and January 26. Advance reservations are required and are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis for the free open-air barge tours conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rangers and staff.

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    Christie

    Today I saw what looked like a young bald eagle. I was on Robert Rose Drive in Murfreesboro behind Home Depot. He was sitting in a tree near a new set of business suites. I pulled into the parking lot and sat and watched him. The tree sits in small patch of wooded area. He was very large and didn’t seem to mind the traffic noise.

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    James

    There was a large bald eagle at the golf course in Smyrna today, about 8:15 am. It was a beautiful sight to see, it let us get within about 30 feet before flying away. I was able to get some pictures before he flew away.

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    Kevin Schutt

    I am one of the original eagle team members that collected and released bald eagles in Tn at all the west and middle Tn sites .I have 30 years of info on the program from the begining. I would be glad to pass along if interested. Many people risked their life and personal time to make this happen. An American success story.

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    Linda Barritt

    Last Friday, November 1, 2013, a couple of my friends were leaving my home. As we stepped on to the front porch, several birds were flying overhead. Just as I looked up I saw a huge bald eagle soaring about 20 feet above my house. I saw its white feathered head, large hooked beak, etc. My friend and I both excitedly said at the same moment, “That’s a bald eagle!” It then flew across the way and landed in a large skeletal leafless tree. (We live in the country) It was so beautiful and majestic. I didn’t realize there were ANY bald eagles in this area. Do glad I saw it!

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    Linda Barritt

    ….So glad I saw it….

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