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Pigeon Forge, TN
Slope (N8)
hatched May 8
fledged from hacking tower August 25
(second egg did not hatch)
Link

 
Most pictures from the Hancock Wildlife Channel's
thread on the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Bald Eagle Cam

Additional pictures are from the Maine Bald Eagle Cam Discussion Forum's
thread on the AEF Eagle Cam

Please visit the American Eagle Foundation at http://www.eagles.org/
for much more information about their captive-bred eagle release program
and the eaglet featured in these pictures.
 

Liberty and Justice, a pair of non-releasable Bald Eagles - female Liberty can only see out of one eye so lacks the depth perception needed to hunt in the wild, while male Justice was found with shotgun pellets in a foot and wing, resulting in permanent injuries that would keep him from hunting successfully. They bonded as a pair in 1993, and have successfully raised 13 of their own offspring and several foster chicks for release to the wild from hacking towers in Tennessee.

Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photo - May 8, 2008
Based on past experience, look for eggs in late March, chicks in early May, and fledging in mid to late July. The chicks will be removed from the parents at about 5 weeks of age and transferred to a nearby artificial nest in a hack tower, where they will be released a few weeks later as part of the American Eagle Foundation's captive release program.

Summary of 2008 Season:
  • eggs laid: two before April 2
  • hatched: first egg - May 8; second egg did not hatch
  • removed from nest: June 24 for transfer to hacking tower (age 6-1/2 weeks)
  • fledged: from hacking tower August 25 (age 15-1/2 weeks)
  • last seen: August 27 by observers in the area
Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet
JudyB's photos - May 8, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet
JudyB's photos - May 9, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photo - May 10, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photo - May 12, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet
Skipper's photo - May 12, 2008
Update from American Eagle Foundation:
May 13, 2008: "The second egg was removed from the nest today, "candled",and determined to be infertile."
Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet
PattiO's photos - May 15, 2008
(one week old)
Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photo - May 18, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet
JudyB's photos - May 18, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet
PattiO's photo - May 22, 2008
(two weeks old)
Pigeon Forge eaglet
PattiO's photo - May 26, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photo - May 28, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photo - May 29, 2008
(three weeks old)
Update from American Eagle Foundation:
May 30, 2008: "Our 3-week-old baby has grown a lot! If you've been watching, you've seen this little eaglet hopping, wiggling (sometimes his crop is so full from a recent dinner that he can't quite get up), and stretching! You'll also notice a definite change in color from fluffy white to a darkening gray. All is well, and Liberty and Justice keep doing a great job. "
Pigeon Forge eaglet
PattiO's photo - June 2, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photo - June 3, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet
JudyB's photos - June 5, 2008
(four weeks old)
Update from American Eagle Foundation:
June 6, 2008: "At 4 weeks of age, there's more activity from the eaglet. He (she?) is very alert to what's going on in the nest and is getting stronger every day hopping, (sometimes falling over!) walking, exercising wings."
Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photo - June 9, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photo - June 10, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet
JudyB's photos - June 11, 2008

Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet

Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet
JudyB's photos - June 12, 2008
(five weeks old)

Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photos - June 13, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photo - June 14, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet
LakeMaMa's photos - June 15, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photo - June 17, 2008
Update from American Eagle Foundation:
June 18, 2008: "At 6 weeks of age, there's a big change in the size and appearance of the young eaglet. Gone are the downy white feathers - the eaglet is more closely resembling its parents. Although the parents still feed their baby, the eaglet is also beginning to feed itself."
Pigeon Forge eaglet
PattiO's photo - June 19, 2008
(six weeks old)
Pigeon Forge eaglet
gogee's photo - June 20, 2008
Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet 
JudyB's photos - June 20, 2008

Update from American Eagle Foundation:
June 23, 2008: "Our eaglet will be removed from the nest tomorrow, June 24, and transferred to a nearby artificial nest in a hack tower overlooking East Tennessee’s Douglas Lake. It will become oriented to typical bald eagle habitat for several weeks before it's released."

Pigeon Forge eaglet
American Eagle Foundation's photo - June 23, 2008

Update from American Eagle Foundation:
June 24, 2008: "The eaglet was taken from the nest at 8:30 am June 24th. She's a female weighing 9 lbs. 1oz. Her hack tower companion, who is a few days older, weighed a little over 5 1/2 lbs. The weight discrepancy is due to the geographical region of the country where the parents were born. Northern birds are larger than Southern birds. An Alaskan female can weigh 16 pounds and have an 8 foot wing span. A Southern male can weigh as little as 5 pounds. We know for sure Justice is an Alaskan bird,and we suspect from her size Liberty is, too. The parents of the other eaglet came from the San Francisco Zoo and they are smaller birds."

Pigeon Forge eaglet Pigeon Forge eaglet 
Eaglets are readied to be hoisted up to the tower; on the way up

Pigeon Forge eaglet
both eaglets in the hack tower overlooking Douglas Lake
American Eagle Foundation
's photos - June 24, 2008

 

Additional Information from the American Eagle Foundation:

AEF's hack tower has a 1-way glass on the rear of the hack cages, whereby up to 12 eaglets can be observed in four 8/x/8x8-foot hack cages.  Vertical bars, 4-inches apart, separate each side-by-side cage, mounted about 25 feet above ground and overlooking Douglas Lake.  There are also small openings in the solid rear and side walls, whereby pictures may be taken of the eaglets inside the cages.

Hack tower release dates are based primarily on when the eaglets are first capable of flight.  That is generally at about 12 weeks of age, which would be July 31, 2008 for the web cam eaglet.  They may be stimulated to exercise their wings more when facing strong steady winds during their 8 - 12 week old period.  In areas of strong steady winds, eaglets are typically strong enough for their first flights at about 10 weeks of age.  They are judged ready to fly from the cage when they can fly in place, a few feet above their caged nest, for several seconds.   If there is not much wind, they may not exercise their wings enough to be strong enough to fly until they are about 13 weeks age.  Another important factor in their release is the attempt to release as many young eagles as feasible at the same time.  AEF plans to release up to seven young bald eagles from its hack site on July 22, 2008, but the eagle cam eaglet may, or may not be, ready for release at that date, depending on its flight capability at slightly less than 11 weeks of age.

A blind is usually set up to the front right of the hack tower, allowing some pictures to be taken from that angle as the young eagles leave their cages.  Some eagles immediately bolt out when the vertically barred front cages are remotely raised by rope and pulley.  However, they typically hop outside the hack cages onto perch poles and, after a few minutes to an hour or more, after they get enough courage to do so, they fly to a nearby tree.  Their first landings can be somewhat awkward because they have had no prior experience at landing while flying horizontally.

Immature eagles are vulnerable to threats during their first year of life, primarily because they are naive to a variety of dangers in the wild.  Dangers are many and include:  becoming entangled in thick vegetation (mostly when very young), being hit by vehicles while feeding on freshly dead road kills, colliding with powerlines, never learning to hunt for themselves, electrocution.  A radio transmitter is placed on the tail feathers of each eaglet so that they can be found if they get in trouble before dispersing from the area, which is typically two to four weeks after release.  Only about 50 percent survive their first year, whether hacked or from wild nests, after which about 90 percent survive each year.  That leaves only about 36 percent surviving to five years of age, when many will find a mate and produce their first young.   Bald eagles have been known to live as much as 39 years in the wild and over 50 years in captivity, where there is good veterinary care.  If an eagle is capable of surviving in the wild, it must be released into the wild.

From 1992 through 2007, the American Eagle Foundation released 87 young bald eagles, from captive-bred and wild nest blow-downs, at its Douglas Lake, TN hack site. Approximately 10 more are proposed for release there this summer. In Tennessee as a whole, 312 bald eagles have been released from seven different hack sites from 1980 through 2007, with Douglas Lake being Tennessee's only active eagle hack site since 1994.

 

Update from American Eagle Foundation:
August 25, 2008: "Slope, the bald eaglet that was hacked and released by the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) on Douglas Lake was removed from the nest of Liberty and Justice at AEF on June 24, 2008 and transferred to the Douglas Lake hack site near Dandridge, TN. It was released on August 25. It dispersed from the general area on August 27, 2008, when it weighed 10.0 pounds. Apparently a female, it had a 2-inch orange, patagial tag (wing tag) "N8" on its left wing to aid sighting reports. There have been no reported sightings since its dispersal, which is not unusual. All patagial tags ended in "8", indicating release in 2008. Slope was named in honor of fallen Marine Sgt. Michael Ferschke Jr. by the Ferschke Family."

an eaglet (not Slope) being released from the hacking tower
American Eagle Foundation
's photo - July 24, 2008
(I'm hoping to get a picture of Slope's release a month later)
age on August 25 was 109 days - about 15-1/2 weeks

All images are the property of the cam from which they were taken and/or the person credited.
Information and pictures from the American Eagle Foundation are used with permission, all rights reserved.
Thank you for letting me use the images for this compilation.